Saturday, 19 June 2004
WWII Survivors Still Going Strong
CREDIT: © Polar Inertia/PolarInertia.com
WHERE: nationwide USA. WHAT: surviving Quonset Huts.
MAP: Rhode Island. Thumbnail clicks  pop-up source pages.
In the last part of our trilogy [now linked from the sidebar FEATURES NAVIGATION pulldown menu] for the Wriggly Tin Festival, we look at Quonset Huts. The history is suitably minimal for a project with a lead-in time of two months, even though around 170,000 units were manufactured during WWII. We thought it unlikely that the original might still be standing, but we found some that must be very early examples: the American Memory web site has a HABS [Historic American Buildings Survey] section that catalogs the structures at Quonset Point Naval Air Station, RI, where the prototype Quonset Hut was designed and built in March 1941, almost nine months before the Pearl Harbor attack that precipitated direct US involvement in the war.
We searched the catalog, and found four [3a][3b] pages that included pictures of Quonset Huts. We are not qualified to make any claims or assertions, but we do think they make an interesting collection. Perhaps 'Serial #001' appears somewhere!
At the end of WWII (1939-45) surplus huts were sold off for civilian use, at around $1,000 each. They were adapted to many uses, and many have survived and are in use down to the present day. The PolarInertia.com web site has a number of projects that may interest those with an awareness of the visual appearance of their world. One of the projects records surviving Quonset Huts in eighteen pictures, and we chose our own favorite  five for today's thumbnail strip.
Some people have become attached to these utilitarian buildings. They may not have won BDC [Business Design Centre] awards, or be Bauhaus creations, but their form certainly does follow function. They have insinuated themselves into the familiar visual environment, and people are reluctant to allow them to be needlessly torn down. We found numerous examples of preservation efforts, and chose  four that we thought most fully explored the issues and presented the subjects.
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Jules Laforgue (1860-1887)
"Ah! que la vie est quotidienne."
Oh, what a day-to-day business life is.
'Complainte sur certains ennuis' (1885)