Tuesday, November 11, 2008

World War II Emergency Housing: Dayton/Fairborn

The last Fairborn thread looked at the WWII boom, and touched on one “emergency housing” project, Hebble Homes. This was just a taste of what was happening in the Dayton area.

The military added to its presence in the area via Gentile Air Station (which didn’t have a runway but was a sort of supply point) and an additional Wright-Patterson cantonment between Wright and Patterson fields.

Yet the big expansion was not just at the base but the conversion of Dayton’s manufacturing economy into war production, which drove a massive demand for new workers.

This required more housing than was available.

Mapping out a portion of the response for the east side of Dayton, there was mix of public emergency projects and new military areas, as well as permanent housing of various types. Not shown here was the wartime jerry-building and private sector housing. In a sense this wave of housing construction was the first big population boom into what was later to be the eastern suburbs of Dayton.


Mapping out a portion of the response for the east side of Dayton, there was mix of public emergency projects and new military areas, as well as permanent housing of various types. Not shown here was the wartime jerry-building and private sector housing. In a sense this wave of housing construction was the first big population boom into what was later to be the eastern suburbs of Dayton.


Taking a closer look at the Fairborn/Route 4 area, the military barracks boom and emergency housing for families.


...some quick looks at wartime on-base housing. All of these are on the "Fairborn" side of the base; Patterson Field. There was housing at Wright Field, too, but no images of those.


We've seen this before, but just to put it in context. The off-base Hebble Homes emergency housing project and nearby on-base Splinter City barracks complex.
Skyway was essentially a brand new community build ajacent to Wright View and a new catonement area across from Route 4, at the end of the Third Street Extension/Airway Drive.

This housing area had single civilian womens barracks (presumably clerical support for the supply activity) as well as family housing, and a community center with some limited shopping.

Since wartime rationing was in force people didn't drive everywhere. Skyway was connected to Fairborn, Dayton, and other parts of the base by bus, and a sidewalk was built to connect the housing area with the military cantonment, so people didn't have to drive to work. Note the limited parking adjacent to the community center, which may have included some limited shopping.

The housing area at the bottom is a part of Wright-View (more on that in a later post)


Emergency Wartime Housing in Dayton

The Fairborn area wasn't the only part of Dayton to recieve emergency housing. Projects were built througout the city. Prior to the war there were two permanent public housing projects, Parkside (whites) and Desoto Bass (blacks), and the Greenmont Mutual Homes.

During the war an additional mutual homes development went up across Woodman from Greenmont, but the vast majority of the wartime government projects were intended to be temporary "emergency" housing. Many were still standing in the early 1950s, so included in this "problem housing areas" map.



Harshman Homes went up near Wright Field, adjacent to the village of Riverside. This project was torn down and replaced by apartments, but it appears some units where relocated nearby, as in the pix in the insert:

Housing was also located closer in, like the McGuffy Homes in North Dayton and the River Bend housing complex just across the river from downtown (certain landmarks are labeled).


The pix just catches the southern tip of the project, which extended for three blocks along the river.

Slice of life detail in a slightly enlarged pix. One River Bend building survived down into modern times, as an arts & crafts center, but was torn down when the site became the grounds for the Temple Israel synagogue.
Since the emergency projects were federal, they followed the federal Jim Crow policy in force at the time, segregating housing for blacks and whites. Here is a Sanborn of on of these: "Lake View Homes (Colored)". This was about a block north of the permanent DeSoto Bass project (Dayton's first public housing project), which recieved three emergency housing extensions or annexes.

One additional Jim Crow emergency project, Home View, was further west, near the VA.

The Moraine industrial complex south of town recived this emergency project, surrounded by victory gardens and two ball diamonds.


Only the community building survives, the former home of the Kettering-Moraine Musuem.


One of the largest emergency projects was Overlook, just east of Smithville and north of Third. This was supposed to be temporary, but was converted into a mutual housing arrangemet in the 1950s, so survives fairly intact into modern times, a legacy of the World War II emergency housing boom in Dayton.
Overlook is worth it's own post since its still intact and the story of this project was written up in the Saturday Evening Post in 1962. More on that later.

Though a lot of projects were built, it wasn't enough. The wartime and postwar housing shortage drove an explostion of substandard jerry-building in Dayton's suburban fringe, resulting in the city being surrounded by a ring of suburban slums.

We'll take a closer look at this next.

8 comments:

Holly Michael said...

Interesting stuff. Got anything on the western part of Montgomery County? Germantown dam? White flight out of Jefferson Township (timely now that the school is almost kaput)?

Always an enjoyable read. Thanks.

Jefferey said...

Yes, actually I've done quite a bit of research on Jefferson Township, Drexel, and white flight/racial change in general (not just for those areas) but havn't blogged or posted on this yet.

For racial change I did do a series on Dayton city, taking it up to 1920, but not beyond.

I did a series on Trotwood & the Salem Mall area over at Urban Ohio that was pretty in-depth.

For Germantown I did a long pix essay at Urban Ohio a few years ago as I am a big fan of that place. More on the town not the dam.

For New Lebanon and Pyrmont I did a series at Urban Ohio that was more a historical look.

Holly Michael said...

Would love to see links to some of the posts you reference. Found the photos of Germantown on Urban Ohio--we just had dinner at the Florentine Saturday.

Jefferey said...

Western Montgomery County:

Farmersville set to words from Edgar Lee Masters' Spoon River Anthology:

http://tinyurl.com/5rlnep

New Lebanon/Johnsville/Pyrmont:

http://tinyurl.com/58rjh7

Brookville & Airhill

http://tinyurl.com/66s95t

http://tinyurl.com/6njrnh


Three on Trotwood and the Salem Mall

http://tinyurl.com/6aj6mk

http://tinyurl.com/6y735t

http://tinyurl.com/599lx7

Wayne C said...

My family and I lived in both the Harshman and Overlook projects, and I want to thank you for this great article. I would also like to know the source of the Harshman map, and if it would be possible to get a better copy to help jolt my fading memory.

Anonymous said...

Very interesting history, thanks. But - Dude, get your grammar correct:

"Overlook is worth it's own post since its still intact and the story of this project was written up in the Saturday Evening Post in 1962. More on that later."

"It's" = contraction of "It is"
"Its" = possessive pronoun, like his or hers. You botched both.

ENGLISH! DO YOU SPEAK IF M*****

Tiago said...

Sudden migrations to cities generate big problems that many times governments failed to resolve. Sometimes immigrants adapt just well and basic services are provide to satisfied his needs, but many times this vulnerable sector end up in risky neighborhoods and with many needs unresolved. Last summer I traveled to Argentina and I stayed into an apartment rental in buenos aires who was build in the 30´s, apparently since 1920 to 1960 Buenos Aires caught million of immigrants from the countryside of Argentina. At the beginning they found where to stay or the State created many buildings like the one I stayed that was very lovely. But as the country became poorer and poorer the new migrants ended in enormous poor areas with lack of every basic services like clean water or electricity. This dramatic situation has grown through the years and now it is a major problem for many megalopolis like San Pablo, Buenos Aires, México DF, Beijing, etc.

Anonymous said...

My name is Hensley and I would like to know more about the EPA standards of the building codes for Harshman Homes. I would like to know if the paint contained lead when these homes were built and if lead paint was in the homes during the time I lives in them. I would also like to know more about the gas lines and kitchen stoves that were installed. I have certain illnesses now that I need to find out the origin. Would you please help me. My email address is avignon720@gmail.com. Please contact me at my email address. This is very important to me. Thank you. Mrs. Hensley