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Random Interesting Tri Cities Fact: Richland's Alphabet Houses
Richland in Washington is famous for the alphabet houses designed by Albin Pherson, the Spokane based architect commissioned by the US government. It took him about 3 months to make a blue print for Richland. By April 1943 the first house was ready even as the streets were being paved.
Using lumber and the ranch style of dwellings, Pherson sought inspiration from the renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Houses sported the alphabet designs, and the pyramidal and box shapes.
Construction was such that the letter houses had double-hung windows. While there were single large panes of glass, there were also houses with divided panes. The external façade had wood and asbestos shingles and included wooden porches. The first few houses used coal to generate heat but the subsequent ones reverted to oil. A fireplace was absent in all houses but they all came with chimneys to let out the fumes from coal and oil.
Emergent architectural design revolutions saw the interiors being designed with sheetrock, wood floors: softwood fir in duplexes and hardwood oak in single family residences. Linoleum flooring was rampant in the kitchen and washrooms while the inner doors came in dual flat wood panels bordered by thicker, solid wood. The doorknobs were smaller and of chrome plated brass.
The washrooms were equipped with space for first aid kits and medicine cabinets and had a sink attached to the wall. Porcelain and cast iron bathtubs walled in on three sides, cast iron kitchen sinks with space to drain and hold dishes and galvanized steel pipes to carry water, both fresh and waste, completed the package.
Earthing was not provided for any of the electrical outlets. Connections were soldered and the wires used were copper. Insulation too was nominal though fiberglass made its presence felt later. There have been a lot of changes in these houses over the years. Carpeting, use of vinyl sidings on the exterior facades, heating arrangements, and remodeling the bathrooms and kitchens have been most common.
Some of the most interesting alphabet houses were :
The B-house built as a single storied duplex with basement sported linoleum floors in the kitchen and bathroom and softwood fir in the rooms.
The D-house was built as a one and a half storied dwelling with a basement.
The F-house was two storied and had a basement. This was better decorated and ad very similar to the "four-square" houses visible in urban areas during the early 20th century.
The H-house was a single storied structure with a basement and there was an extension made to the rear portion of the house. The floors of the room sported hardwood oak while linoleum was used in the kitchen and bathroom flooring.
The U-house was a single storied abode with no basement. Termed "precut" given all the wood came 'precut' to the construction site. U and V houses sported asbestos shingles on the external walls. Some of the U houses had a gabled roof, while most displayed hipped roofs like the V houses.
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