Roosevelt-Cairo Village

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1959 USGS map showing Roosevelt-Cairo Village

Roosevelt-Cairo or Roosevelt-Cairo Village is a residential subdivision developed by Molton Gray in 1945 for Black homebuyers. It was located along Wilkes Road between Cairo and Roosevelt (Madison Station) on the Bessemer Super Highway, five miles east of Bessemer and near Valhalla Cemetery and the Old Glory Tourist Camp.

Gray subdivided the property into 150 50-foot by 135-foot lots, which were advertised in August 1945 as having access to light, water and telephone service and "close to school". By September, Gray was offering car rides to the site by appointment and to resurvey lots as large as 1 acre.

The development specifically attracted Black veterans, who had access to construction loans financed by the U.S. Veterans Administration. In 1946 Gray hosted an Easter egg hunt for the 4th Avenue USO Club at the site. That September he advertised a second addition to the subdivision, which adjoined the 40-acre Colored Country Club. In 1950 W. B. Leedy & Co. was acting as exclusive agents for the subdivision, offering new 2-bedroom homes at Roosevelt-Cairo for $6,200 with no down payment to Black veterans. Gray opened an adjoining Gray's Heights subdivision to the north in 1951.

In the early 1950s the Jefferson County Health Department determined that overflowing septic tanks at most of the homes in the original "52-house, $350,000 project" presented a public health hazard. Though the tanks were properly sized, poor soil and an elevated water table in the Valley Creek flood plain prevented percolation. He admitted that the department had approved the septic systems, but concluded that the soil tests provided to them were, "inaccurate at best." Residents complained about the conditions to no effect.

The septic problems led the Montgomery VA office to threaten the Roosevelt-Cairo Development Co. with removal from its list of approved contractors in April 1953. Efforts to reach a solution were complicated because since the development was in unincorporated land, there was no municipality with the authority to assess property owners for the cost of extending sewer connections, as had been done by Mountain Brook for Crestline Park and by Bessemer for Oak Grove, subdivisions which had experienced similar problems.

In 1955 Denison's department threatened 47 of the subdivision's 52 households with eviction if the overflows continued. Jefferson County Commissioner Eddie Gilmore negotiated a plan for the VA and the county to share the costs of designing and installing lateral connections to the Jefferson County Sewer System's Valley Creek trunk line. The VA would contribute $25,000 to the county to redesign the proposed sewer line for a planned Roosevelt-Cairo Negro Junior High School so that it would service the subdivision. The VA's cost would then be pro-rated among residents, and repaid over time as part of their mortgage. The county contracted with the Paul Hancock Jr. Construction Co. to complete the work.

With the sewer connection made, residential development continued. A. G. Gaston's Vulcan Realty & Investment Corp. advertised the construction of 50+ 3-bedroom homes at Roosevelt-Cairo, financed by the Booker T. Washington Insurance Co., in 1956. In 1958 the offer was for "modern 3-bedroom homes...complete with utilities, carport, concrete drive and paved streets," priced from $9,750, with a $300 down payment on FHA loans and no down payment on GI loans. In March 1959 Vulcan began offering partly-prefabricated Knox Model Homes at Roosevelt-Cairo, including the 3-bedroom, 1-bath model known as "The Rocket". By 1961 the subdivision was being advertised as A. G. Gaston's Roosevelt Cairo Village.

In 1967 Roosevelt-Cairo Village joined with Roosevelt, Cairo and Brewerfield to form the newly-incorporated Roosevelt City with a population of 3,300.