De Pere, WI. – The Wisconsin Historical Society placed the Mansion Street WWII Defense Housing Historic District (De Pere, Brown County) on the State Register of Historic Places in February of 2021.
As the United States was suddenly plunged into war in late December of 1941, many aspects of normal life underwent a radical change. Within a short period of time the federal government assumed control of many aspects of ordinary life including rationing of basic commodities like gasoline, meat, sugar, rubber, and building supplies. As manufacturing resources were repurposed to meet the needs of the new war economy, it became clear that housing for defense workers was an immediate need. This led to the creation of federal programs supportive of new housing developments.
Fourteen Cape Cod style single-family houses in the Mansion Street district comprise the largest part of the Thrifty Homes Addition to the city of De Pere, platted in April of 1941. Those responsible for creating the new plat were landowners Anton and Mary Van Gruensven, and their son-in-law, Edward Vercauteren. Vercauteren, manager of the De Pere yard of the Standard Lumber Yards, Inc., took advantage of federal financing and rules regarding the allocation of building materials to develop the small neighborhood for families engaged in defense work in the Green Bay area.
The resulting district is the only new suburb built in De Pere during WWII. The houses here are the only ones in the city built specifically for defense industry workers and to aid the war effort. This district is still very intact today and continues to be a vital part of the larger residential neighborhood that surrounds it, and helps tell the story of this unique period in history.
The State Register is Wisconsin’s official list of state properties determined to be significant to Wisconsin’s heritage. The State Historic Preservation Office at the Wisconsin Historical Society administers both the State Register and National Register in Wisconsin.
To learn more about the State and National Register programs in Wisconsin, visit www.wisconsinhistory.org.