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.



11 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

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

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!

9 10 2017
Dottie Piechocki

My father attended Michigan State College on the GI Bill, graduating in the summer of 1953 with a BS in Journalism. He and my mother lived in married housing in the Quonset Village. As I was born in Dec 1951, the story is I was conceived on the campus and spent the first year and a half of my life as a Quonset baby. Naturally, I grew up to marry a die-hard U of M supporter. If anyone has miscellaneous photos of Quonset hut life (other than the four posted here), I’d appreciate hearing from you.

1 02 2019
Lynne (Fouts) Bernier

Class of 1970, TV/Radio major, College of Communication Arts. Our TV studio classes were held in quonset huts that I remember being located waaaaaay out in the middle of some vacant fields, a very long walk through the blowing snow. Maybe some of the huts were relocated after housing was built and used for this purpose?

4 02 2019

Yes, many of the quonset huts were re-purposed after dormitories were built to house the influx of students. They were used for classes and offices.

22 03 2019
Chuck Julian

Not only students lived in the Quonset huts. My wife’s family lived there when she was quite young. Her father was MSU Music Professor Gomer Jones.

3 05 2019
Mary C McCann

I remember living in the Quonset huts when I was little after my dad left the Army and he was on the GI Bill at MSU. I remember lots of kids there, especially Dorcas.

9 05 2021
Nancy Burnham

I lived in the Quonsets my freshman year at MSC 1954

19 09 2021
J. I. Swiderski

Do you have information on when the “married housing facilities and university apartments” that replaced the Quonset Village were built?

My parents were grad students at MSU in the early- to mid-’80s; we lived in University Village until I was nearly seven. I was surprised to learn recently these apartments have been gone for over a decade already…and with them gone (and the quite-common name) it’s rather difficult to find any information about them anymore…

28 09 2021

Thanks for your question. Many of the Spartan Village buildings were razed between 2001 and 2008, according to MSU Infrastructure Planning & Facilities. There are a few buildings still in use.

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