Last updated: April 13, 2023
T-101, a civilian women’s dormitory, housed women civilians, or non-military staff who were working for the Manhattan Project. Military personnel were often placed in barracks within the military section of Los Alamos, while civilian staff were housed in one of four civilian dormitories in town, in what is now downtown Los Alamos. Designed by Willard C. Kruger, who also designed many non-military facilities for Project Y, dormitories were some of the earliest buildings to be built on the mesa. T-178, a men’s dormitory, first appears on a map in August 1943, this map also included the first Women’s Army Corps (WAC) barracks in the military section in the Western area. In total, four civilian dormitories were constructed on the mesa, two male dormitories and two female dormitories, the female dormitory is all that remains today.
Sometimes called “Priority Dorms,” civilian dormitories, were in high demand, and always had a wait list because they were known to be plush, with a shared bathroom. In an interview, Rebecca Bradford Diven speaks about her life as civilian personnel for the Manhattan Project and what life was like living in a civilian dormitory. Listen to her interview through the “Voices of the Manhattan Project.” Diven describing the dormitory setting and what was provided to her by the project said, “We had army blankets, army sheets, army towels, army washcloths. And it was a little startling when you picked up the washcloth and towel and things and every one said USED, U-S-E-D, United States Engineer Detachment, and we all had great jokes about our “used” linens. The dorm cost $15 a month, including maid service, laundry, and they cleaned the rooms. And the mess hall, I don’t know if I remember what it cost, it must have been maybe $25, I think, a month for three meals a day, and I just had forgotten to include that in the dormitory.”