In the early 1940s, there was tremendous growth in population in our snug corner of southeastern Washington. All of the country’s promising scientists and engineers were moving to the area to work at the Hanford site during World War II. In order to accommodate this large jump from a small farming community to a booming city, the Hanford building project was created. Richland “alphabet houses” were designed by Spokane native architect Albin Pherson. In less than 90 days, he planned the entire community of Richland, including streets, utilities, commercial building plans, and residential building plans.
Pherson created a great number of residential building plans, using letters of the alphabet to name them all. The Hanford building project is one of the most successful mass productions of government housing in history; so much so that many of the structures are still standing and used by families in Richland to this day. Each alphabet house came with it’s own unique style, ranging from ranch-style ramblers to two-story colonial duplexes.
The A House
The “A” house is a two-story duplex, each home consisting of three bedrooms and one bathroom. This beautiful home comes with double-hung windows, while the exterior often features horizontal clapboard siding on the top floor and shingles on the bottom. The interior boasts fir wood flooring and main floor living and dining. Construction on the “A” house started in 1943 with a total of 408 structures built, which provided homes for 816 families. Although this is the first letter in the alphabet, this was not the first home to be built. The first home to be built was the “B” house.
The B House
The ”B” house is a one-story duplex, each home featuring two bedrooms and one bathroom. This ranch-style home was inspired by American architect Frank Wright, who promoted uncomplicated designs for efficiency. The first of the alphabet houses to be constructed, there were 520 structures built, which created 1,040 homes. Fifty percent of the “B” homes came with basements featuring fir wood and linoleum flooring.
The C House
The “C” is often confused for a “B” house because of similarities in its single-story duplex structure. The “C” house is another two bedroom, one bathroom home. There were fewer “C” homes built, with only 85 structures and a total of 170 homes built. Duplexes were the popular choice at the time of the Hanford building project to create as many homes as quickly as possible. Today, these duplex homes are often bought to provide an extra income for the homeowners, who live on one side and rent the other home out.
The D Home
The “D” home is the first single-family home of the alphabet homes. These four bedroom, one and three-quarter bath homes boast of hardwood oak flooring. These homes were 1,281 square feet and feature full basements. One of the rarest alphabet houses, there were only a total of eight built.
The E Home
The “E” home is a one-story single-family home consisting of three bedrooms and one bathroom. All of the “E” homes feature basements and hardwood flooring. A total of 84 “E” homes were built between 1943–1945.