The planners of the 158 homesteads were not just shooting for bare subsistence--they provided families with modern and comfortable houses that anyone could be proud to own. The goal of the architects was to offer "Negro tenants now occupying highly inadequate Negro housing facilities of nearby cities the substitution of modern low-cost, well-planned garden homes in a rural environment located upon highly productive trucking land" (1936 Walton memo). Aberdeen Gardens was not a slip-shod temporary housing arrangement for industrial servants. The RA planned that this project would become a community, equal to white neighborhoods, that would last.
The "garden" notion of Aberdeen Gardens was taken from a long architectural tradition that held that undeveloped open spaces in the midst of neighborhoods and cities would help residents maintain their both their connection to the country and not be degraded by city living--garden spots were thought to improve the state of the middle class worker (Wagner, 2). The term "garden" was specifically taken from To-morrow by Ebenezer Howard, whose garden theories influences architects like Central Park designers Frederick Law Olmstead and Calvert Vaux (Wagner, 2).
Resettlement Architects like Robinson took these ideas and combined them with a commitment to building modern housing. By necessity, they favored practical architecture. Secretary of Agriculture Henry Wallace and RA director William Alexander wrote in a 1937 Architectural Forum article that "In the case of farmers, the Administration has not only striven to build better farm houses but also to build them in proper relationship to the farmsteads of which they are units. And where rural homes are an integral part of a community, it has built with the intention of relating each house to the community (475)."
All facets of the larger community life were also planned for; RA architects set aside room for churches and designed a school. They intended to build a community center, but that project was never finished so homesteaders used the school for that purpose. Aberdeen Gardens included one house that was not designed by the Resettlement Administration, the Wesley Johnson property. The "Johnson farm house" was built in 1898 and the RA purchased the house from a local family in 1936. The Johnson family was allowed to live in that house because they had the most children-ten. The house has four bedrooms and is built in the Victorian style with a wrap-around porch. Although the property is set off from the rest of the neighborhood, 600 feet from Aberdeen Road, it is still considered part of the community.