Richland, the community created to house Manhattan Project workers at Hanford, sprung from the sagebrush and sand seemingly overnight. This park is one of many open green spaces included in the plans for the secret city.
The Army Corps of Engineers hired Gustav Pherson, an architect from Spokane, to design and develop Richland. His plan included “an abundance of open green spaces running into the center of the town, with tree-lined parkways dividing the town naturally into neighborhoods.” Alphabet homes designed predominately by Pherson surround this park. He named the different home models after letters of the alphabet, hence the name, “alphabet homes.” Their standardized designs made these houses easy to construct. During the rush to construct the city, Army contractor DuPont built an average of 120 houses each month.
Pherson planned neighborhoods to have a mix of home styles. Duplexes and single-family homes of various sizes and construction costs created neighborhoods with mixed income levels. Alphabet homes belonged to the United States government. Residents, regardless of social status or wealth, rented their houses. Tenants could not make repairs or significantly alter their homes. Officials even decided what colors alphabet home residents could paint the inside of their houses.
In the decades since the Manhattan Project, some alphabet homes have fallen victim to the wrecking ball. The surviving structures around this park still provide a sense of domestic life in Richland during the Manhattan Project. They also show the difference between this permanent community and the far more temporary one at the Hanford Construction Camp where the workers who constructed Hanford’s industrial facilities lived.
Continue Your Journey
Take a walk through the neighborhood and see if you can identify the different models of alphabet homes. Check out floorplans and types of alphabet homes in this document from the City of Richland to help you identify the various models.
Visit downtown Richland to see the places where atomic workers who lived in these alphabet homes shopped, ate, and relaxed, such as the CC Anderson Department Store (Things Worth Keeping), Gress’s Meat Market (Frost Me Sweet), Richland Players Theater, and Riverside Park (Howard Amon Park).