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The Quonset Hut at Shoenberg Farms

In the location of the Hidden Lakes Apartments at Shoenberg Farms, there once existed a structure commonly referred to as "the Quonset hut." A brief architectural nod to the previous structure is seen in the detail of the corrugated steel used on the exterior of the Hidden Lakes Apartments. It is reminiscent of the exterior of the “Shoenberg Farms Quonset Hut.”

What is a Quonset hut?

A Quonset hut is a small, lightweight building made of corrugated steel. It was designed in the United States during World War II, and it's named after the site of its first deployment - Quonset Point at the Davisville Naval Construction Battalion Center in Davisville, Rhode Island. Hundreds of thousands of them were produced during World War II and were later made available to the public as military surplus.

The Fuller Construction Company manufactured the first Quonset huts in 1941. The first hut was produced within 60 days of signing the contract. In 1946, the Great Lakes Steel Corporation claimed that the term "Quonset" is a trademark owned by them, but the word is often used generically. The Quonset hut at Shoenberg Farms was not created using steel arches, but wooden arches. Therefore, the Quonset arches at Shoenberg Farms were not from the Great Lakes Steel Corporation.

The wood arches spanned north to south and ran east to west. The structure was covered with corrugated steel, and the arches were approximately 3 feet from one another.

The foundation was an 8” concrete stem wall around the building footprint. The interior floor was primarily packed dirt, but there were a few areas of concrete slab on grade. It was used to house farm machinery and hay for livestock on the west end and on the east end, respectively.

The Quonset hut at Shoenberg farms measured approximately 50’ x 144’ and was roughly 7311 square feet. This was more in line with what the Great Lakes Steel Corporation called their “Utility Building”. The Utility Building is a larger version of the Quonset hut, and sometimes nicknamed "elephant hut". This was a name also used for Armco Air Raid Shelters. The building evolved over time and could be adapted to various climates with the addition of specialized components.

A single unit could be erected by a team of ten men in 300 hours, could be shipped in crates, and required less than 400 cubic feet of shipping space.

The Shoenberg Farms "Quonset Hut" was unceremoniously demolished on December 3rd, 2013.

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