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White City - A ghost city from 100 years ago

White City begun (1/1/1911 Courier - Year In Review)
White City begun (1/1/1911 Courier - Year In Review) / Courier Press

White City was something of an enigma. In 1910, when out-of-towner J A Brown announced plans to build an amusement resort opposite Evansville, there was an instant buzz. Brown purchased 10 acres of the Mann farm on the Kentucky side of the horseshoe with the intent of a Coney Island-like town. The "White City," as it was commonly called, attracted investors. It was located approximately across (due west) of the Waterworks building, and was to be Utopian in design. Local architect F Manson Gilbert was even commissioned to design some of the buildings and homes. The town hall was to be a 2 1/2-story concrete structure which would serve as an administration building and club house.

In fall of 1910 there was concern that the city had gone belly up, but Brown redoubled his efforts and the foundation of the administration building and engine house were completed.

A naming contest was held for Brown's village but since the town never materialized nothing stuck. It had many nicknames in the papers including "Riverview", "Brownsville", "Model City", "Mysterious Town", "Newtown", "Mortallies", "West Evansville", "Brown's town"

Even into early 1911 it looked like the dream city was still possible, but that faded fast. By spring, there were signs that the city was doomed and people who invested now owned worthless land. Brown was sued by F Manson Gilbert for oustanding bills on design work.

The land for White City was auctioned in 1914 and still never flourished. In 1918, it was described that the "avenues were crumbling away and the parks were overgrown." It was proposed to be redveloped as a saloon but that never materialized either. Michael Helfrich owned what is believed the only completed structure in the 1920s. As the the owner of Helfrich National Pottery, he found himself in a bit of a jam when liquor was discovered in his cottage during Prohibition--Helfrich claimed it was procured before the amendment was enacted.

With the promise of glorious things, White City disappointed Evansville residents. It is little wonder there is some skepticism today with the Landesco fiasco of downtown redevelopment and even in the arena and convention hotel. Once bitten, twice shy this author supposes.

Little remains of the town although the locality appears on most maps,+henderson+co,+ky&ie=UTF8&ei=e3hyUvOTE4Gk2gW7soCIBQ&ved=0CAoQ_AUoAg

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