Quonset Huts (1941-1960)

According to Alan Higgins in “Architectural Movements of the Recent Past,”

“A Quonset Hut is a lightweight prefabricated structure engineered out of corrugated metal, and characterized by a semicircular cross section. The origins of the Quonset Hut lie in the Nissen hut designed by the British during World War I. The term Quonset originates from the location of the first producer, the Davisville Naval Construction Center, at Quonset Point located in North Kingstown, Rhode Island.5

The Quonset Hut dates to 1941, when the United States Navy contracted with George Fuller to produce an all-purpose, lightweight structure that could be shipped anywhere and easily assembled; the result was a steel framed structure covered in corrugated steel sheets with the ends being covered in plywood. The interior spaces were insulated and covered in a pressed wood lining and utilized wood floors. The building could be placed on concrete, on pilings, or directly on the ground with a wood floor.6 The open interiors allowed for a multitude of uses and between 150,000 and 170,000 huts were constructed during World War II. After the war, the military sold off huts to the public for $1000 each. Quonset huts are often used as storage facilities or are converted into small residences.” Please see below for more common features of Quonset Huts.

Identifying Features:

As noted in “Architectural Movements of the Recent Past” by Alan Higgins, the defining features of the Quonset Hut are:

  • Steel tunnel structure
  • Corrugated Metal Skin
  • Structural steel ribs
  • At the ridge, ribs run perpendicular to the structure
  • Built in 12-foot increments
  • Concrete floor and foundation
  • Some windows have louvers for ventilation or hoods
  • Often modified with false fronts

  1. Higgins, Alan. “Architectural Movements of the Recent Past,” http://alan-higgins.com/
  2. http://img4.southernliving.com/i/2009/05/southern-home-awards-may/before-quonset-hut-l.jpg
  3. http://www.munciefreepress.com/node/18832
  4. http://www.shedandshelter.com/compacthouse/quonsethuts.org260×195.jpg