Elizabeth Virrick: Housing Reform in Miami

Elizabeth Landsberg Virrick was Miami’s champion slum fighter. Born in Winchester, Ky., Elizabeth Virrick was educated at the University of Wisconsin and Columbia University, studying interior design and architecture. She treasured Blue Vanda orchids and designed her own house as a showplace for her collection of antiques. Such was the unexpected background and interests of the woman who masterminded the Bathroom Loans. In 1948, there were 482 outhouses in the Black Grove. At night, the Honey Wagon came to collect the waste. Those outhouses were the first thing to go in her all-out war for slum clearance. By pointing out to the Grove’s wealthy white families that the same people who were living in filth were coming each day to work in their homes, Virrick raised more than $7,600 in no- interest loans for new toilets and plumbing. Every cent was repaid.  She was honored with a park and a pool named after her as well as a public housing project at Northwest 25th Avenue and 16th Street bears the title Elizabeth Virrick Village.

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