Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Richland's alphabet soup houses

An A house today
Richland, Washington's alphabet houses were quickly constructed to house thousands of people working on the Manhattan Project during World War II.

The one- and two-story ranch style homes formed the nucleus of the community which grew out of the desert as people converged to construct the atomic bombs that were later dropped on Japan to end the war.

B house today
The community was quickly designed, with street construction starting in March 1943. The first house was completed a month later. Before construction started, Richland had only about 20 homes, hardly enough for the 16,000 people coming to work at Hanford.

Each house style was assigned a letter, with B being the most common, followed by A. Both were duplexes. Housing was assigned based on how many people were in a worker's family. Some houses had only one bedroom, others had three. Though almost all of the houses had chimneys, few had fireplaces. Instead the chimneys were used to vent from the coal and oil used to heat the homes, the local historical society says.

Dozens upon dozens of the houses exist today, just about everywhere you go in Richland. While the houses essentially all looked the same back then, today's owners have added decorative touches such as paint schemes, porches, window shutters and carports. As you drive around Richland, it is amazing to see the changes made by a little creativity.

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