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The Quonset Hut
updated: Dec 01, 2012, 3:00 PM

By David Powdrell

The Quonset hut - Inexpensive military Americana

Here's the deal….I had some idle time on Haley Street while the car was at the mechanics. Strolling to Muddy Waters for some coffee, I walked past a few interesting old Quonset huts, which got me wondering about the history of the old structures.

Here's what I discovered, mostly from Wikipedia: In 1941, the United States Navy needed an all- purpose, lightweight building that could be shipped anywhere and needed no skilled labor to assemble. The Quonset hut was designed by Peter Dejongh and Otto Brandenberger of the George A. Fuller construction company of Quonset Point, Rhode Island. It took the company 60 days to complete the first batch of huts.

Different sizes were available from the original 16' x 36' model to 20' x 48', 20' x 40' and a warehouse model that was 40' x 100'. Originally, all huts had unpainted galvanized exteriors. To prevent enemy observation, an olive-drab camouflage paint was applied at the factory.

The interior space was open to allow for barracks, latrines, offices, medical and dental offices, isolation wards, housing and bakeries.

Between 150,000 and 170,000 Quonset huts were manufactured during WWII. After the war, the U.S. military auctioned off the surplus Quonset huts to the public at $1,000 apiece.

Today, there's a smattering of Quonset huts throughout Goleta, Santa Barbara and Carpinteria. Among others in the area, one's a winery, another's a furniture warehouse, one's used in manufacturing, there's an auto repair shop in one and one's a design studio.

I doubt that anyone back in the 1940's ever imagined that the Quonset huts would still be around today. But like old wood barns and the T-Bird, they're a bit of cool Americana.

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