In 1936 the United States Department of Agriculture's Resettlement Administration began the construction of three new communities, known as the Greenbelt towns, one of which is Greendale, Wis. Besides Greendale, the other two are Greenbelt, Maryland and Greenhills, Ohio. There were several objectives to building these utopian communities. These model towns were intended to demonstrate a new kind of suburban community which would combine the advantage of both city and country life, provide work to men on unemployment relief, and provide low cost housing.
The town was carefully planned, with specific areas designed for business, village administration, residential, and cultural and recreational activites. All of the property was owned by the government and then rented to families, based upon income, housing need, and family size. Income requirements were specific: minimum annualaincome of $1,200 and maximum of $2,700. Some exceptions were made for those with special skills such as medical doctors and other professionals. To prevent too rapid expansion, all new development was tightly controlled by Greendale residents through various home owners¿ associations.
The Village of Greendale was officially opened to new residents on May 1, 1938. This arrangement lasted until the houses were sold to the renters in 1952, for between $7,000 and $10,000.