Columbia Housing Authority has received permission from the federal government to raze Gonzales Gardens, the city’s oldest, and one of the nation’s oldest, public housing complexes.  Built in 1939 and occupied by veterans in 1940, the community has provided affordable housing for over 75 years.

The Gardens has been home to notable former residents such as Archbishop Joseph Cardinal Bernadin and basketball star Tyrone Corbin.

The CHA has a design plan for a $60 million complex to replace Gonzales Gardens that will reduce current density, create a mixed income community and provide affordable housing to downtown Columbia.

Archbishop Joseph Cardinal Bernadin

Tyrone Corbin

Born on 2 April 1928 in Columbia, South Carolina, to a family of Italian immigrants, Bernardin was the only Catholic boy on his block. These early experiences helped him acquire a great understanding and tolerance for other religions and opposite points of view. Initially intent on choosing a career in medicine, he attended the University of South Carolina for a year. Later, after deciding to enter the priesthood, he graduated with a degree in philosophy from St. Mary's Seminary in Baltimore in 1948. He received a master's in education from Catholic University in Washington, D.C., and was ordained a priest in 1952. Once ordained, Bernardin's skills shined, as he soon climbed the hierarchical ladder, moving to Atlanta and becoming the youngest bishop in the country by 1966. By 1968 Bernardin made Washington, D.C., his home as he became the general secretary of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops (NCCB) and its social action agency, the United States Catholic Conference. In 1972 he was named the archbishop of Cincinnati, Ohio, and was elected president of the NCCB in 1974, serving in that role until 1977. Bernardin brought to every position a strong confidence and a progressive agenda toward church policies. In 1982 Bernardin was named archbishop of Chicago, the largest archdiocese in the nation. This new foothold of power placed Bernardin in a prominent location to express his social activism.

On June 12, 1939, Chairman W.S. Hendley announced that the first of the two projects would be named after the Gonzales Brothers, and would be located on Forest Drive, across from Providence Hospital. The property on Forest Drive was bought by the CHA on June 17, 1939, and included 23 acres of land that would suit 200 to 250 units of low-income housing. Construction of the new project began in late November, 1939, and the final plan included 236 dwelling units at a cost of approximately $1 million dollars. A firm out of Charlotte, North Carolina, V. P Loftis, was the low bidder on the construction contract for Gonzales Gardens.
Gonzales Gardens was opened for occupancy on September 16, 1940, and it was completely filled within 15 days. One hundred of the new apartments were made available to non-commissioned officers families stationed at Fort Jackson. The remainder of the apartments housed civilian families in the low-income bracket, according to federal law governing income levels.
The project was owned and operated by the CHA, and originally consisted of 236 units. Only white families were permitted to live at Gonzales. Rents originally ranged from $7.65 to $16.75 per month and included electricity, gas and water.
It was at Gonzales Gardens that the CHA first adopted the system of graded rents, making it one of the first housing authorities in the country to do so. Graded rents refer to the adjusting of the monthly rental amount according to the family's income.
In May of 1942, 44 additional units were constructed at Gonzales Gardens, bringing the total to 280 where it stands today.

Gonzales Gardens was built under the same loan contract as Allen-Benedict Court, and both projects together cost $1,800,000. Allen-Benedict Court consists of 244 dwelling units, and was originally developed to house only African Americans. It was also owned and operated by the CHA, and featured graded rents.

History of Gonzales Gardens

Tyrone Corbin completed his second season as an assistant coach with the Jazz after spending the 2003-04 as Manager of Player Development for the New York Knicks. Prior to joining the Knicks, he spent two seasons with the Charleston Lowgators of the NBDL as a player mentor. A versatile small forward, Ty played for eight teams during his 15-year NBA career, including three seasons with the Jazz from 1991-94, where he averaged 9.6 points and 6.2 rebounds in 233 games. His primary responsibilities include working with front-court players on skill development and preparing the team for games by breaking down video of opponents and their offensive and defensive sets. He also shared coaching duties with assistant coach Scott Layden during the 2005 Reebok Rocky Mountain Revue.
Corbin played in 1,050 games during his 15-year career, including stints with San Antonio, Cleveland, Phoenix, Minnesota, Utah, Atlanta, Sacramento and Miami, averaging 9.3 points, connecting on .457 percent from the field and 4.8 rebounds in 26.2 minutes per game. He was originally drafted by the San Antonio Spurs in the second round (35th pick overall) of the 1985 NBA draft. Corbin played in 82 career playoff games, including 37 with the Jazz, averaging 8.4 points and 5.0 rebounds. He scored 11.3 in 16 games with Utah in 1991-92 and 11.8 points in five games with the Jazz in 1992-93.
Corbin averaged 11.5 points in four years at DePaul University, including 15.8 points in his senior season. He played in 120 games for the Blue Demons, increasing his scoring average and field goal and free throw percentage in each of his four seasons. He finished seventh on DePaul’s career scoring list and was a two-time honorable mention AP All-America selection, as well as an All-NIT choice in 1983, and he was invited to the 1984 Olympic trials.
Tyrone and his wife, Dante, have two children, Tyjha and Tyrell. He graduated from DePaul University with a computer science degree and served an internship at Merril Lynch as a financial planner during the summer of 1997.

Gonzales Gardens