Cultural Heritage Tours

A project of the ETHNIC HERITAGE CENTER

Lower Dixwell Tour

Florence Virtue Homes

37 Orchard Place

Florence Virtue Townhouses, c. 1965. Courtesy David White.

In the 1960s the Dixwell Avenue Congregational Church sponsored the creation of the City’s first mixed-income cooperative housing. This 129 unit complex, which includes 43 three-bedroom and 16 four-bedroom townhouses was created as a multi-racial community to serve families. It was designed by architect John Johanson.

The complex was named for Florence Virtue as a tribute to her many good works for the residents in the Dixwell Neighborhood. Florence Sinclair Virtue was born in Manderville, Jamaica WI. She moved to the U.S. in 1917 and initially worked in Montclair, N.J. as a nurse-maid. She met and married William Lopez Virtue, also from Jamaica. After several visits to friends in New Haven they decided to relocate here from New York. They became lifelong members of Dixwell Avenue Congregational Church where Mrs. Virtue pursued a life-long lay ministry caring for the hospitalized, the seriously ill and the bed-ridden. She was known by hundreds of people who benefited from her selfless service. A Deacon for more than 50 years, she was honored by her church as their “Mother of the Century.” In addition she received the Sojourner Truth Meritorious Service Award in 1964 and the Charles E. Fletcher Civic Service Award in 1980.

  • Text source courtesy Peter Gadsby, Property Manager of Florence Virtue Housing and the 50th Anniversary Celebration booklet, August 13, 2015.

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