This town is awash in Quonset huts.
Funny thing: You can live here for decades and not even notice. Like, most of us can remember a Q-hut on Riverside Avenue as you drive into town. But in fact, it’s a row of FOUR Q-huts (technically on Jefferson). See:
(Okay, maybe you don’t see. Q1 is distant, but it’s Black’s Glass. And Q3 doesn’t look Quonset at all. That’s because somebody has hidden it behind an elaborate store front. But it’s unmistakedly Quonset behind the facade.)
After you start thinking about these 1940s artifacts, you start to see them everywhere.
They came here after the war, when building materials were scarce. The University ordered 100+ from Montgomery Ward to house the swarm of GIs that doubled enrollment during the last of the 1940s. The half- and quarter-round homes came on the train and formed Veterans Village on the north boundary of the school.
Always too hot or too cold, the Quonset huts endured as married student housing only until the 1960s. Once obsolete, the tin dorms found their way into backyards, fields, and farms everywhere. There are two at the Swetsville Zoo. And one at Frank’s Trout Farm.
But there were others. A local store sold tiny 12×20 kit Quonset hut houses, and two remain:
Both built in 1947. They remind me of Gypsy wagons. It’s only when I mistakenly thought we had lost one that I began to think about them at all. I took a wild stab and Googled Quonset+hut+fort+collins, and found the most amazing and exhaustive report: Read this (PDF)!!!!
For more local Quonset huts, see the “Beyond the blog” link at right.
You’re right – now I see them everyhere.
And Portland is lousy with Q-Huts.
I never knew that’s what they were actually called – even with the words “Q-Hut” on the front of one of them.
Here’s one that’s in nice shape:
Another one that I’ve seen is located next to a brewery and is being renovated as part of said brewery:
Cat, I like both your new articles. I remember visiting married students in Boulder in Q-huts, and I remember that basement house on Laporte. It hadn’t dawned on me that I no longer see it. Thanks for refreshing my memories!
Hi, Cat! I’m really enjoying your blog! Very fun, and lots of great topics. Keep it up!
Cat, we saw another one today, just west of where Bingham Hill Road bumps into County Road 23 that goes from Bellevue to Horsetooth Reservoir. It’s a lovely bright yellow.
Dear Cat: I happened on your website while researching quonset huts. I love it! Where is Fort Collins? Do you have any photos of inside quonset huts? Especially where people were or are living in them? I would very much appreciate any information and photos you might have to share.
I lived in one of those quonset huts as a child, but in Boulder, not Fort Collins. My dad was a student on the GI Bill – I guess it was married student housing there, too. There was a whole group of them arranged around a little courtyard or something. Two bedrooms (one very small), a tiny bathroom, open kitchen and breakfast area down one side and a long living room down the other. And we only lived in HALF of the hut – another family lived in their half in back. It was hot during the summer and very cold in winter. I remember one spring in the early 1950′s and a heavy April 1st snow that buried us up to the small windows on the sides. My mother was so glad to move!
I still have photos of the interior of our quonset, but not of the outside. Next time I’m back in Colorado, I’ll have to look for the Fort Collins quonsets.
I, too lived in the married student housing quonset huts in Boulder as a child. I wonder what effect the metallic echoes and the difficulty in understanding the other humans who lived there (my parents and sisters) had on my early childhood development.
I was moved out of the hut at 13 months.
Has anyone mentioned the quonset huts that made up a mini-ghetto across Willox Lane from the north Albertson’s? It was a local landmark and eyesore, all at the same time. My New York roommate used to call it Schmata (sp? means ‘garbage’) Heights. I had at least one friend who lived there when we worked at Teledyne in the middle 70s. I don’t know how many there were, but where did they all go?! And when? Anybody know?
On the post titled “11 Lost Fort Collins businesses”, there’s a picture of Ladd’s Covered Wagon. 287 between FtC and LaPorte [Fort Collins' favorite restaurant in a giant Quonset Hut! Burned down].
I got to wondering: How do you burn a Quonset hut down? Well, I went searching, and it turns out that fire gutted the interior of the building in early 1966 after the business had ceased operations in 1965 and was about to be sold for another use (operated from 1948 -1965). A few months after the fire, the exterior was dismantled.
That little yellow guy in the second picture—quite a glamor shot, by the way—looks like the one I always walk by in my neighborhood. Was that taken on Lesser St.? I always wondered what it would be like inside, and how low you’d have to hang a framed picture.