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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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Comments in order of when they were received | (reverse order)

 COMMENT 349280 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-01 03:09 PM

There time has come full circle again... I bet there is still a huge market for these as housing structures. I love these buildings!


 COMMENT 349295 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-01 04:09 PM

I guess you can file this one under that old line about politicians, old buildings, and prostitutes getting respectable if they last long enough!


 AUNTIE S. agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-01 07:32 PM

Thanks for this iteresting bit of history. I f they weremanufactured new today they'd be the latest thing and hailed as the ultimate "green"building.


 COMMENT 349378P agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-01 10:15 PM

You know what's cool? Your writing is cool. Photos are great, but I like also that you write well. Easy to follow and informative. Thank you.


 COMMENT 349404P agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-02 06:55 AM

Lived in one for a year and a half. Cold in the winter. Hot in the summer. Better than a tent.


 COMMENT 349409P agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-02 07:36 AM

Dalgene's Interiors on Ortega St. is in a Quonset hut, formerly the home of the Banana Bungalow.

I had no idea Quonset was the name of a place in Rhode Island, though now you mention it the name bears a striking resemblance to Quahog, RI


 ELSPETH agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-02 08:37 AM

We had them in Britain, during the war, but they were called Nissen huts! Now I'll go google that and see what I can find ...


 COMMENT 349447 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-02 09:11 AM

Before I was born, my family lived in a Quonset hut in San Diego at the Naval Station. My mom said it was pretty rough. Life is so much better now!


 COMMENT 349463 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-02 10:12 AM

I remember from the 50's & 60's when they were considered very cheezey construction, from an architectural and planning viewpoint. I believe there was a time when no qh would be accepted as a commercial building, unless it was grandfathered in. Recyling and green weren't "in" then!


 COMMENT 349577 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-02 07:14 PM

Thanks for this bit of history and loved the pictures.


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