Our story began in the small town of Center Line as our country was approaching one of its greatest trials. Prior to World War II, the land on which our community stands was largely rural and situated just outside of the small downtown area of Center Line. This pastoral scene was soon to change, however, as the United States became more involved in war production and government planners began to see that nearby factories needed more war workers than the current local population could provide. These individuals began the plans to build what would eventually become Kramer Homes.
The Federal Government purchased 47 acres of land in the City of Center Line and enlisted the aid of the well-renowned architects, Saarinen, Saarinen and Swanson to design this government housing development. The architects created a development plan that designated the school building as the focal point of the community, serving as both an elementary school and a community center. Plans were approved on all sides and construction began on July 31, 1941.
The government erected eighty-seven buildings totaling 500 units. Upon completion, the development had its own playground, parking lots, circular streets, and large expanses of lawn. The housing units were built of solid redwood and each unit had a front and a back entrance opening onto small yards.
As construction drew to a close, the government planners decided to name the development after the legendary priest and pastor of the local St. Clement Parish, Father Kramer. The official opening of Kramer Homes was in February, 1942, but the auspicious beginning for the community quickly faded as the war reached an end. Because Kramer was originally built to house war workers, the end of WWII brought the future of Kramer Homes into question. Residents of Kramer as well as fellow residents of Center Line, however, successfully petitioned for the right to keep Kramer Homes as a permanent housing community within the City. Shortly thereafter, a group of Kramer residents negotiated and obtained the money to purchase the housing development from the Federal Government and formed a housing co-operative whose goal was to maintain high quality housing for the lowest possible cost. The complex officially became Kramer Homes Co-operative, Inc. on February 11, 1949. It was dedicated by Governor G. Mennen Williams on May 13, 1950.
Since this momentous beginning, there have been many changes in Kramer Homes. These changes began in 1967, when Kramer Homes undertook an extensive exterior remodeling program. The eighty-seven buildings received new roof lines, gutters and downspouts, aluminum windows and vinyl siding. The improvements to Kramer Homes continued into the 1980’s and early 1990’s, the Co-op repaved streets, replaced water mains, re-roofed buildings and upgraded the galvanized water pipes to copper.
Sounds of construction returned to Kramer Homes in 1995, when sidewalks were replaced and expanded and front porch overhangs redesigned. At this time, all the buildings received updated color schemes with new vinyl siding and vinyl windows accentuated by shutters.
The 21st century started with a completely new round of upgrades, including new areas of cement work, new sewers, and the expansion of our urban forest through the addition of trees and gardens. We also recently installed a stone-coated metal roofing system, which will last us a lifetime.
The co-operative concept has kept Kramer Homes a dynamic part of the City of Center Line. The people who keep Kramer vibrant are its members who volunteer their time to Kramer activities, including the Board of Directors and the Advisory Committee. By working together, the residents of Kramer Homes have been able to achieve their goal of living in a pleasant, high-quality housing community at the lowest possible monthly cost.