On Thursday, the Historical Preservation Society of Cherokee County hosted the unveiling of the Alabama Historical Commission plaque for Estes Field on Main Street in Centre. That ceremony took place at the Cherokee County Historical Museum on East Main Street.
The field was named in honor of Orville Estes, who graduated from Cherokee County High School in 1937 and was the first person from the school to give his life in WWII.
The Works Progress Administration, more commonly referred to as the WPA, was an American New Deal Agency, employing millions of people to carry out public works projects, including the construction of public buildings and roads. It was established on May 6th of 1935, by presidential order, as a key part of the Second New Deal.
The WPA’s initial appropriation in 1935 was for $4.9 billion. The WPA provided paid jobs to those unemployed throughout the Great Depression, while building up public infrastructure of the U.S. – such as parks, schools and roads. Most of those jobs were in construction, building more than 620,000 miles of streets and over 10,000 bridges in addition to many airports and a great deal of housing. The largest single project of the WPA was the Tennessee Valley Authority.
At its peak during 1938, it provided paid jobs for three million unemployed men and women as well as many young people in a separate division; between 1935 and 1943 the WPA employed more 8.5 million people.
The rock work surrounding the field is the only thing in Cherokee County built by the WPA/Works Progress Administration, with that project incorporating local materials and labor. It stands as a testament to a time, in which everyone worked together – for the common good – with dedication to building a better future for all.