Almost 60,000 people call Richland, Washington home, enjoying life right where the Columbia and Yakima rivers meet. Whether you enjoy renaissance fairs, steelhead fishing, or classic car shows, there’s something for everything in one of the Tri-Cities.
Richland is full of history relating to the Manhattan Project. In the 1940s, the project brought thousands of workers to the Richland area to work on the project.
If you live in Richland or are familiar with the area, you might have heard about the alphabet homes. If you haven’t, you’re in luck. We’re going to discuss the history behind the alphabet houses construction project.
Richland’s Ties to the Manhattan Project
In 1943, Hanford got selected as the site for the B Reactor, a full-scale plutonium production plant. Less than 10 miles away from Richland, scientists needed an area of around 225 square miles to build the facilities. Thousands of workers came into the area and needed places to live.
G. Albin Pehrson, a Spokane architect, was chosen to design a community for the people who came to the area to work at the plant. Pehrson worked tirelessly to accomplish that task in less than three months. He created various neighborhoods that got filled with green spaces and cul-de-sacs.
Why Are They Called the Alphabet Homes?
One of the unique things about the neighborhoods Pehrson designed was their names. He named the floor plans for the letters in the alphabet. There were A houses, B houses, C houses, and so on.
Unfortunately, there’s no hidden meaning behind the letters chosen. Hundreds of houses got constructed, and they remain a vital component of Richland’s landscape and history.
Tour the Historic Neighborhood
You can book a tour of the historic alphabet home neighborhood. The tour guide, Richard Nordgren, is the leading authority on the alphabet houses. He’s also well versed in Richland’s post-war and wartime history.
As you tour the neighborhood, you can see how the home designs vary from letter to letter. For example, the F house is two stories tall, and larger families typically lived in them.
Most of the homes’ designs got based on the Ranch-style look made famous by Frank Lloyd Wright, an innovative American architect. Some of the other designs encompassed minimalist ideals that were made popular in the 1930s.
Wooden shingles covered the alphabet houses’ exterior walls except for the U and V houses. They got covered in asbestos shingles.
They also didn’t use the lath and plaster process that contractors commonly used during that time. All of the homes’ interiors used sheetrock.
There have been modifications to the houses over the years. The most common modification is the use of vinyl or metal siding over the original wooden shingles. The original wood floors have often been replaced by carpeting.
Whether you’re an architectural fan or a history nut, there’s something for everyone on the alphabet homes tour.
Visit Richland to Experience Wartime History
The Richland Washington ABC houses, or alphabet homes, showcase an interesting time in America’s history. Pehrson quickly developed the neighborhoods to house the massive influx of workers in the area. People still live in the alphabet homes today.
For more real estate facts, check out one of our other blogs.