Jimmy Carter Builds a House (7-7-1986)

Abraham Lincoln split wood to build houses–before he was president. On this day, a former president was in Chicago getting ready to build a house.

Five years after leaving the White House, Jimmy Carter was volunteering at Habitat for Humanity, a Georgia-based ministry that constructed homes for the poor. His wife Rosalyn was with him. This week they’d be doing their part in West Garfield Park.

Carter told reporters that Habitat for Humanity had given him and his wife “a new dimension in our lives.” They’d begun the Jimmy Carter Work Project by renovating a six-story, 19-unit apartment in New York in 1984.

The House That Jimmy Built, 2010

The House That Jimmy Built, 2010

Now they were building a new four-unit townhouse on the southeast corner of Maypole and Kildare Avenues. During their time in Chicago, the Carters would live in the neighborhood, at the Guyon Hotel on Pulaski Road.

Over 150 people worked on the townhouse. Among them were about 70 volunteers from local building trades unions. The ex-president himself clocked a 14-hour day, sawing and hammering. Though the weather was rainy, construction was completed in four days, and the first families happily moved in.

Three decades later, Habitat for Humanity continues its work. The 2014 project is scheduled for Dallas in October, to coincide with President Carter’s 90th birthday. Unfortunately, the West Garfield Park townhouse he helped build eventually became derelict, and was torn down in 2010.

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1 Response to “Jimmy Carter Builds a House (7-7-1986)”


  1. 1 Garry July 7, 2014 at 10:45 pm

    So it ended up just like Carter’s domestic & foreign policies.


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