National Park Service U.S. Department of the Interior

National Register of Historic Places Program

The National Register of Historic Places is the official list of the Nation's historic places worthy of preservation. Authorized by the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, the National Park Service's National Register of Historic Places is part of a national program to coordinate and support public and private efforts to identify, evaluate, and protect America's historic and archeological resources.


Property Name Norwayne Historic District
Reference Number 13000479
State Michigan
County Wayne
Town Westland and Wayne
Street Address Generally bounded by Palmer, Wildwood , Glenwood and Merriman Roads and Wayne County Lower Rouge Parkway
Multiple Property Submission Name N/A
Status Listed 7/9/2013
Areas of Significance Community Planning & Development, Industry
Link to full file
Begun in 1942, Norwayne meets national register criterion A for its planning and development by the federal government during World War II as a housing development for workers at the Ford Willow Run Bomber Plant and their families because of a shortage of nearby housing. The Ford Willow Run Bomber Plant was the site of production of the B-24 bomber during the duration of the war. The vast majority of the defense housing built for the Ford Willow Run Bomber Plant was temporary housing surrounding the plant in Ypsilanti. None of the temporary housing survives. In 1942 the construction of the Norwayne Housing Project began, developed by the Federal Housing Authority under the Federal Works Project at a cost of $12 million. The project was built as permanent housing for the workers at the Willow Run Bomber Plant, other nearby World War II factories, and the hospital known as Eloise (the Wayne County Poor House) in what was then known as Nankin Township- now known as the city of Westland. The project included around 1200 structures that held a total of 1,900 units of housing , two schools, a shopping complex consisting of ten stores, a fire station and an administration building. At its peak in 1945, the Norwayne Housing Project housed 5,000 families totaling almost 20,000 individuals. The last building constructed, Norwayne Community Church, was built in 1947, and it still stands today. The period of significance is from 1942, when the Norwayne project began, to 1948, when Nankin Township assumed control of the project from the federal government, and this constituted the effective end of Norwayne as a federal housing development. The Norwayne Project is nominated under the area of significance of Community Planning & Development and Industry. Initially designed by the Detroit architectural firm of Lyndon and Smith, and later Augustus O'Dell, Hewlett & Luckenbach, the Norwayne Housing Project was unique to the metropolitan Detroit area. While other Detroit-area public housing projects were built at that time, none had the scale and density of the Norwayne project. The Norwayne project's curving courts and curving cross-streets followed recommendations by the Federal Housing Administration in the 1930s. For that reason, the Norwayne project is significant for Community Planning & Development.


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Properties are listed in the National Register of Historic Places under four criteria: A, B, C, and D. For information on what these criterion are and how they are applied, please see our Bulletin on How to Apply the National Register Criteria