Berkley Square Unveils Neighborhood Banners - 8 News NOW

Berkley Square Unveils Neighborhood Banners

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LAS VEGAS -- A piece of Las Vegas history was commemorates on Saturday in time for Black History Month.

City leaders unveiled banners and plaques to mark the site of the first African American subdivision in the city.

On the heels of World War II, African Americans, segregated from white communities, began pushing for change.

"[African Americans] therefore petitioned to the federal government for an area in which they could raise their family and live in nice conformable homes," said Ward 5 Councilman Ricki Barlow.

Designed in 1955 by architect Paul Revere Williams, the spacious ranch style homes sold in the realm of $7,700 and became the first African American subdivision in Las Vegas.

Known as Berkley Square, the community of roughly 4 blocks, was designated a Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places in October of 2009.

Saturday, Ward 5 Councilman Ricki Barlow took that a step further, unveiling 34 banners and two bronze plaques to mark the historic neighborhood.

Ruth Eppenger Dhondt's parents were among the first to move into the neighborhood in 1957.

"It was a nice area for families and we had small homes but they were designed well so that you had space for families to grow," said Dhondt.

She remembers growing up in the community surrounded by influential African Americans.

"So many people that came in to "man" the community were professional people---entertainers, a doctor, a lawyer and a dentist and the rest were just working people," said Dhondt.

Now the president of The Berkley Square Neighborhood Association, Ruth said she's proud of the changes and recognition.

"It's awesome, it's just one more enhancement," said Dhondt.

African American artist Joseph Watson created the banners. Watson is hosting an exhibit for Black History Month at The Arts Factory at 107 E. Charleston.

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