Boulder City Magazine® September 2006 Issue
|Boulder City History
by Dennis McBride, Boulder City Museum & Historical Association
Boulder City's Demountable Houses
At the beginning of World War II Boulder City suffered a severe housing shortage. As the Bureau of Reclamation, the Bureau of Mines, the National Park Service, and other federal agencies beefed up their personnel, there weren’t enough houses in town to accommodate them.
Boulder City Magazine®
|To alleviate the shortage, the Bureau of Reclamation signed a contract with Thomas Buck Construction in Stockton, California to build 100 little frame houses which came to be known as “demountables.” Buck’s bid was only $124,000; the houses were 16’ x 24’, built in sections, assembled onsite and bolted to concrete slabs the Bureau provided. The houses were called "demountable" because they could be unbolted from their slabs and moved on trailers to wherever they were needed.
The demountables were small enough to fit four on a lot, and they were scattered all over town: along both sides of the 500 block of Avenue M; along Fifth Street in what now is Bob Broadbent Memorial Park; on Elm Street behind the Flamingo Motel. Twenty demountables and a common wash house stood in what now is Frank Crowe Park.
When federal employees moved into town and needed a place to live before a more conventional house became available, the government put them into a demountable. The Bureau of Reclamation provided bedroom furniture from its warehouse, a stove and refrigerator. Agnes Lockette, who joined her husband, Emory, in Boulder City in 1949, remembers that if you knew the guys who worked in the warehouse, you could get pick of the best mattresses and newest refrigerator.
In 1954-55 the Bureau of Reclamation began selling off its demountables with the stipulation they be moved out of Boulder City. The only demountable that remains in townremodeled, but looking pretty much as it did when it was placed therestands at 557 Elm Street. This demountable belonged to Elton Garrett, who used it for storage. After he died in 1992, it was found to be packed with a treasure trove of Boulder City history: newspapers, photographs, documents and ephemera of every description, all of which now rests in the archives of the Boulder City Museum and Historical Association.
Sponsored by the Boulder City/Hoover Dam Museum.
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