Crusty old Joe's

Kodiak Alaska Military History

The official web site of the Kodiak Military History Museum

The Quonset Hut
In March 1941 Admiral Ben Moreell, chief of Navy Yards and Docks, got together with the George A. Fuller Co. to make a prefabricated, knockdown shelter to be built in the United States and shipped to distant bases to be easily and quickly assembled by troops in the field.

Fuller was given 60 days to deliver the first order. They studied the British Nissen hut, a semicylindrical steel hut, named for it's designer Captain Nissen. They decided it was too complicated.

The first Fuller design, created at their Quonset Point, Rhode Island facility, was a half-cylinder, corrugated steel structure with arch ribs. It had insulation, pressed-wood interior, could be erected on concrete, on pilings, or on the ground with a wood floor. The wood ends had a door and two windows. The first units were 16 by 36 feet but soon they made them in 20 x 40 foot and 20 x 56 foot models. The 56 foot one provided for an overhang past the end walls. They also made a 40 x 100 foot warehouse and other sizes.

The army ordered 16,000 of them after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Eventually 170,000 were produced.

The outsides were galvanized and, that being too easy to spot from the air, they were painted olive drab.

The steel used in this design was a bit of a problem. So they designed one using all pressed-wood. This design was conjured in the Seattle area and was termed the Pacific Hut.

Most of the huts in Kodiak were steel 16 by 36 feet with four foot side walls. There were two later design huts erected at Spruce Cape in 1951.

The exact number of huts in Kodiak is hard to determine. Most of the maps do not differentiate between a wood-frame structure and a Quonset hut. The huts on Long Island seem to be primarily stock units. In Bell's Flats many were modified with wood-frame additions that appear to be 1943 era as evidenced by the material used, such as the ship-lap siding. On Noch Drive there are at least eight huts in use visible from the street and on the undeveloped part of the street there are another four abandoned ones. On Gara Drive one is in use as a primary residence, one is stripped of it's sheet metal but the ribs are standing, and one is attached to the back of a residence.


We have a 16 x 36 foot Quonset, disassembled and stored on Gara Drive in Bell's Flats with plans to restore it at Ft. Abercrombie. This project is at a standstill. We found some new uninstalled end-panels in a warehouse. If you're interested in this project, please contact us.


From: Seth Brandenberger sethman406 (at)
Subject: Quonset Huts
Date: Sat, 27 Dec 2003 21:35:20 -0700

Dear Mr. Stevens,

I was interested to read about your Quonset Hut restoration project on Kodiak Island. My grandfather, Otto Brandenberger, is credited with coming up with the original design for the building. Grandfather was a Swiss imigrant (1918) who was trained in architecture in Switzerland and New York City. Following his work at Quonset Point, RI, he worked to modify the design for agricultural purposes. He died in 1969 after serving as the State Architect for Colorado.

My father, Robert Brandenberger has historical information regarding the Quonset Hut and it's invention. He attended high school in East Greenwich, Rhode Island during those years. He was later trained as a Naval Aviator for the war effort.

I am excited to read that this project is happening in Alaska. My twin brother Ned and I spent many summers in Alaska working for the Department of Fish and Game. Ned is very familiar with Kodak Island. We still have many good friends in the state.

Seth Brandenberger



Some of the many huts still standing on Long Island in 2000

Noch Drive, abandoned

Gara Drive, now dismantled and stored by Kodiak Military History Museum

Gara Drive, concrete floor.

Nine four-foot panels around the curve. Noch Drive.

Bells Flats

Buskin Hill 7/25/98. Several remain today but those on the roads are gone.

One completely different hut next door to Macdonalds, downtown Kodiak.
LMcGrath (at)
Dutch Harbor WWII, courtesy of Linda McGrath Feb 2004

* There is also one in good shape, but much modified, on the USCG base/airport near the old small boat dock. It was used as an animal shelter. Demolition was scheduled for summer 2002.

* (Note: If largest photo version doesn't load, it may be only available on our CD-ROM of the website.)

Main index This page updated 2004 March 5