Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Industrial Suburb at War: Home Front Boom Town

World War II was the boom era for Fairfield/Osborn due to the increased work at the depot coming from mobilization. In the 1930s the base was renamed Patterson Field in the 1930s, with Fairfield Air Depot (AKA FAD) as the main tenant. Both Wright and Patterson Fields saw a big spike in employment, with 19,500 people worked at the base during the war.

FAD saw massive growth in WWII due to expanded maintenance work, and Fairborn became a housing area for new workers. New subdivisions arose to the north and within pre-existing plats (the base limited expansion to the west and south).

Mapping out the new expansions, there is a mix of private and government development. Hebble Homes was a military housing area for civilians, while the other developments were, I think, private (perhaps government funds helped build them?).

Note the pink colored plats, the "Miscelleneous Right of Way Plats". These were on the former interuban right of way as the line shut down in 1940, just missing potential wartime traffic. Thought rail service ended bus service continued through the war and into the early 50s, with three bus companies providing 35 daily round trips to Dayton as late as 1952.

So Fairborn was well-connected to Dayton as late as the 1950s (the service would continue until ending in the late 1960s).

An aerial view of Fairfield/Osborn in 1944, looking to the south-southwest. The large cement plant is visible along with the new Osborn View subdivision south of the railroads. Some of the plats noted in the map above as shown in this areil.

A close-up of the northside plats. The red dashed line is the interurban right-of-way, an one can see that it determined the the boundaries of the wartime developments. "Krumms Allotment" to the far left would continue to develope through the late 1940s, achieving build-out by the early 1950s, as a subdivision that straddled the wartime and postwar era.

To the lower right one can see the "Splinter City" military barracks area.

A close-up of Hebble Homes and Splinter City, with the Meadow Lawn subdivision in the foreground. Hebble Homes was developed with the right hand side (southern side) first and the long barracks-style housing to the north (left) last.
Hebble Homes survived into the postwar era, though the norther side was demolished. This area became the site of the Fairborn city hall, post office, and modern commercial strip development.
A quick look at some of the wartime housing styles and one commercial building that may or may not be from the war. Wartime construction was a mix of brick and frame, but still followed traditional styles, being minimalist versions of Cape Cods, boxy "Georgians", and Olde English cottages, with the apartments having some colonial trim.

The housing shortage led to a small boom in apartment construction. The former interurban right-of-way lent itself well to this, and was partly built-out as a string of apartment buildings

A portion of the Fair View plat was developed as the "Lovington Arms" plat, a big apartment complex right next door to the "Wood City" barracks area.

The rest of the Fair View plat saw some infill, but had already been mostly built-out in the 1920s in the housing styles typical of a Dayton blue-collar neighborhood.

It's uncertain how old Osborn View is, perhaps from the 1920s or 1930s given some of the housing styles. During the war this area saw construction of small frame cottages ("emergency housing"), which would continue into the postwar era. Osborn View was maybe trending toward the bottom end of the wartime housing maket, one step up from jerry-building. Yet it has a lot of visual interest due to the wide variety of housing styles found here.

The Central Avenue area has some of the nicest neighborhoods from this era, arranged around the high school, with a mix of pre-war bungalows and better wartime housing. A famous wartime resident was the son of Franklin Roosvelt, who was a major in the Army Air Corps and lived on Central Aveue.

Finally, two good examples of how wartime housing was prefiguring postwar suburbia. Victory Park could almost be mis-dated for a postwar "Levittown", but it was built out by 1945 as a mix of Cape Cods, Georgians, and Olde English cottages. This part of Krumms Allotment was developed as wartime apartments, mixes of 4-plexes and larger buildings.

Looking at this aerial one sees all the indicators of what was to come: no alleys, curvey streets, driveways to accomodate cars, serial production of a limited range of house styles, and failure to integrate seperate plans into a whole, as both developments are seperate from each other.

We'll take a broader look at the wartime housing boom east of Dayton next.


Circa71 said...

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Sorry for the unrelated comment on your post—I didn't see other contact information.

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Kristina said...

Love your blog. I've lived in Dayton my whole life and don't know half as much about it as you do. Thanks for all the great info!