Quonset Village

9 07 2012

A lane in Quonset Village.

With the end of World War II, Michigan State University came up against a challenge the college had never contended with before: married students coming in droves, looking

A veteran studies in his Quonset home with his wife and child.

for an education with the help of the G.I. Bill.  Veterans, often with wives and children, were done with their service and were enrolling in schools across the United States in great numbers.  This could have presented MSU with a serious housing problem, but the college was prepared for this influx of students due mainly to President Hannah’s foresight.   Due to the fact that he was working with a limited amount of time, Hannah arranged for a village of temporary housing units, called Quonset huts, to be installed on campus in 1945.

Hannah organized space for these huts on 30 acres of campus land that was previously a poultry plant.  Where today stand married housing facilities and university apartments, in 1945 stood 104 prefabricated steel Quonsets.  The structures were brought in from towns around Michigan where they had originally been constructed as emergency war housing, and they were placed next to the Michigan State Police Headquarters.  Many of the Quonsets were for families, but some of the buildings were also communal housing with common areas and bunks that would sleep up to fourteen men.  In addition, the village had a series of larger huts to accommodate a cafeteria.

Students crowd the Quonset cafeteria for a meal.

The Quonset village is among the many buildings and facilities that no longer exist on MSU’s campus, only this was indeed a very real village, as can be seen from its aerial photographs.  Within five years, permanent dormitories were being built to accommodate the growing student population.  It took several years for permanent facilities to catch up with the space provided by the Quonset Village, but once they did  the Quonset huts were deconstructed and plans were begun to construct the permanent married housing units, which are still in use today on the same site.

An aerial view of Quonset Village.

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3 responses

9 07 2012
Thomas J Beyer

We married September, 1957 and lived in the Quonsets until graduation in June, 1958. I don’t recall any plans the University had to demolish them at that time.

13 07 2012
msuarchives

Thank you for your comment, unfortunately I left the demolition date open-ended because very few sources cite the actual year of the Quonsets’ deconstruction, but I did more digging after reading your post. According to David Thomas’s history “Michigan State College: John Hannah and the Creation of a World University, 1926-1969,” the final hut was taken down in 1982, following twenty years of dwindling usage.

6 11 2014
Beth

Thomas J Beyer: email me at waldonbe@msu.edu if you can. I have a few questions about your experience living in a Quonset. Thanks!

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