Quonsets and Berkeley’s Role in Wars

I’ve always been fascinated by Quonset huts, but hadn’t known much about their history until finding a book about them a couple of years ago, Quonset Hut: Metal Living for a Modern Age. These prefab structures were used as temporary shelters during World War II, and then were used for other industrial, commercial, and residential purposes after the war. They can still be found here and there, and I was pleased to run across one in West Berkeley, at the end of Folger street. I looked up the building in Discovering West Berkeley, which noted that it was built in 1946, U.S. Navy. It looks like other nearby buildings were the site of manufacturing that supported the Richmond shipyards during WW II. There’s quite a bit of history to be found about Richmond and the war, including exhibits at the Rosie the Riveter/World War II National Historical Park (an easy car-free outing from Berkeley — take a bike over the Berkeley I-80 bicycle bridge and ride north on the Bay Trail path to the park, which just one small hill at the racetrack). But what about Berkeley? Because of Berkeley’s association with the peace movement, the city’s role in wars isn’t something everyone thinks about. However, there is plenty of military history here. Berkeley, A City in History includes a good summary of World War II and beyond, and the December 2006 issue of the Berkeley Historical Society newsletter has an article about and photos of Camp Ashby, a U.S. Army training camp for black soldiers during World War II.

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3 Comments »

  1. Georgia said

    There is a Quonset hut in the Corporation Yard next to Strawberry Creek Park. A a recent photograph is included in the local ecologist November 20, 2006 post. Also, see http://www.berkeleycitizen.org/landmarks/corpyard2.html.

    In reference to Berkeley’s peace movement, the “Nuclear Free Zone” signs are interesting street artifacts.

  2. Spike said

    There’s a similar hut opposite the railway station at Ourimbah down my way. Don’t know if it’s a Quonset but I think it’s a relic of the WWII RAAF base there.

  3. Bernard said

    Excuse me…i just wrote a long comment which got trashed by an error message. frustrating. check out this site on west berkeley, which you have very well recognized as an endangered area. – http://www.webaic.org – and watch the movie on that site. thanks for your reports….i have more to say about west berkeley but not now. -bernard

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