Youngs Village represented a time when the nation's troops and their families were racially segregated. No longer extant, the bungalow-style housing was constructed during the 1940s as temporary quarters in response to the housing need associated with World War II.
Youngs Village was located on North Post at the intersection of Meeres Road and State Route 618. At the time of construction, during the early to mid-1940s, drill fields were located on its northern, eastern, and southern sides. A large hospital and two chapels were located on the western side. In 1950, Lewis Heights Village was constructed on the south.
Youngs Village was demolished sometime during the late 1950s or early 1960s, and an elementary school was built in its place. 1
Demolished during the 1960s, little is known about the design and construction of Youngs Village. A 1956 newspaper article described the buildings as "frame-built bungalow-type houses." 2
Historic maps indicate that the village primarily consisted of six streets with buildings sited on each side. The streets ran perpendicular to Meeres Road. 3 Of the 33 buildings composing the village, at least one served as a support structure, possibly the Youngs School.
The village was constructed during the early 1940s, a period when virtually all permanent construction on military installations was suspended. Buildings of this era typically featured simple designs which favored low cost, high efficiency, and speed of completion. The buildings of Youngs Village were probably constructed from wood and intended to be in use for up to 20 years.
Statement of Significance
The Army provided segregated housing for African American personnel and their families until the 1950s. The official end to racial segregation in the military began just after Youngs Village was constructed, when President Truman signed the historic Executive Order 9981 in the summer of 1948. This began the process of integrating America's armed forces.
The African American families who lived in Youngs Village interacted with a well-established nearby black community known as Gum Springs. Recognized for its strong African American heritage, Gum Springs initially began on 160 acres of marshy land willed by George Washington in 1799 to one of his former slaves, West Ford. Washington had used the land as a watering spot for his horses.
Ford developed the land into a thriving farm community. Gum Springs took its name from a large gum tree on the property and soon became home to African American families, including 314 of Washington's former slaves.
During the 1940s, the children of Youngs Village participated in the Gum Springs community school. In 1946, the post newspaper reported that school children, Grades 1 through 7, had recently moved into their own school building and no longer had to travel five miles to the Gum Springs School.4 & 5
Unprecedented numbers of African Americans joined the military as the nation anticipated its possible entry into World War II. The Army's policy of providing segregated housing for its troops caused problems during the massive mobilization and training, however, as its installations were not prepared for the large number of African American arrivals.
The Fort Belvoir newspaper reported in 1956 that residents of Youngs Village were among the families relocated into Dogue Creek Village indicating that Fort Belvoir's housing was integrated by this time.6
The demolition of Youngs Village was completed during the late 1950s or early 1960s.
Youngs Village was named to memorialize Col. Charles Young, an African American officer who had a distinguished military career in the early 20th Century.
Young was born in 1864 to former slaves in Mayslick, Ky. He was the third African American to graduate and earn a commission from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1889.
His first assignments were with the Buffalo Soldiers of the 9th and 10th Cavalries. During the Spanish-American War, Young was in command of a squadron of the 10th Cavalry in Cuba.
In 1903, Young was superintendent of parks at Sequoia and General Grant National Parks in California. He then served as the first black military attaché in American history and became the highest-ranking black officer of World War I. 7
Young died Jan. 8, 1922, while serving as Military Attaché to Liberia. He was buried at Arlington Cemetery.
1 Cheney School, the elementary school constructed in the location of Youngs Village. (The school was demolished during the 1990s.)
2 Belvoir Castle. Sept. 28, 1956, pg. 3.
3 Street names, from east to west were: Ganry, Madison, Coleman, Rivers, Foreman, and Stark.
4 Belvoir Castle Oct. 18, 1946, pg. 5.
5 The students and teachers of Youngs Village School are pictured at the top of this page in a photo published Oct. 18, 1946.
6 Belvoir Castle Sept. 28, 1956, pg. 3
7 NPS, Sequoia and Kings Canyon, National Parks.