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Veterans Village

 Veterans Village, Vet's Village, Vet Village and Vetsville. There were Veterans Villages in Hamilton and Oxford in the late 1940s.

OXFORD: Pre-fabricated, cast-off military buildings were numerous on the Miami University campus in Oxford after World War II. Students enrolling in the fall of 1945 and subsequent years included men taking advantage of the GI Bill to obtain an education. Before the war, enrollment had never exceeded 3,500.

By September 1946, Miami enrollment reached 4,100, half veterans. The influx was too much for existing dormitories in Oxford. In his book, Oxford and Miami University during World War II, Robert E. White Jr. Includes a photo published in the Oct. 6, 1946, issue of LIFE magazine. It shows 400 men in double-deck beds on the gym floor in Withrow Court. White said the students were "anxiously awaiting the Army barracks being moved to Oxford from Fort Knox, Ky."

Veterans Village was north of Chestnut Street between Oak Street and Campus Avenue (later the site of Miami Manor and the Recreational Sports Center).

The double units were built in 1946 for 196 married veterans and their spouses and children White wrote that "though officially called Veterans Village, it soon become known, for obvious reasons, as 'fertile valley.'" Nearby were the Miami Lodges, trucked from Fort Knox, Ky. in 1946. They were east of Veterans Village, north of Chestnut Street between Oak Street and Maple Avenue.

Nicknamed the Green Mansions because of their color, they housed about 200 single veterans. The housing crunch was relieved in 1948 when two dormitories were completed.

The last barracks building on the Oxford campus also had been one of the first constructed. A two-story frame building was erected in 1942 between Withrow Court and Swing Hall on the east side of Tallawanda Road between the eastern ends of Withrow and Church streets. It was built for the civilian pilot training program, but was soon converted to housing for the U. S. Navy's cooks and bakers school, giving it the nickname "Grease Hall." After the war, it was used for student housing and named McMaster Hall in honor of Miami's third president, Erasmus D. McMaster. It was moved several yards east in 1964 and realigned on a north-south axis beside a practice field and used for physical education classes. The building was razed in 1974. Dr. Phillip R. Shriver discussed the post-war situation in his 1998 book, Miami University: A Personal History. Dr. Shriver wrote: "The GI Bill guaranteed that those who wished to go to college after military service would have their way paid by the government.

Many who had never aspired to a college education now had the opportunity, making the GI Bill one of the landmark pieces of legislation in American history." He said "there had been no construction during the war, and little construction in the decade of the Great Depression that preceded the war.

Miami was therefore in a poor position to accommodate so many war veterans, and some quick decisions had to be made. The first was to convert Withrow Court into a men's residence hall . . . through the academic year of 1946-47." Shriver said "other quick conversions had to be on campus. Quonset huts from the Willow Run bomber plant near Detroit, from Camp Perry near Port Clinton in Lake Erie, from Fort Knox and Camp Breckenridge in Kentucky and from Fort Benjamin Harrison in Indiana were transported to the Miami campus and reassembled as emergency housing, faculty offices, emergency classrooms." HAMILTON: Housing units in the city increased 21.2 percent from 1940 to 1950 (14,547 to 17,637). Most of the 3,090 new units were built in the last three years of the decade. Married veterans returning to the city faced a housing crisis because of a combination of wartime building restrictions, shortages of materials and pent-up demand. In 1946 the Hamilton Emergency Housing Commission (HEHC) was formed to assist more than 1,500 people needing in excess of 400 units, enough to fill 15 to 20 city blocks. Later, the estimate was raised to 700 units. May 29, 1946, HEHC announced that 62 acres of the former Benninghofen Farm, south of Hamilton and west of Dixie Highway, would become a 270-house subdivision built by Kenneth Hammond of the newly-formed St. Clair Construction Co. Two-bedroom houses with basements on 50-foot lots were to be sold only to veterans. They were priced under $7,700. Other sites also were sought that would include city water and sewer services. July 12, 1946, the government announced it would send 100 army barracks to the city for temporary housing. The barracks were placed on 4,000-foot frontage on both sides of South Avenue (later renamed Knightsbridge Drive) between South Front and South Second streets. It soon became known as Vets Village or Veterans Village. The city cleared the area and provided sewers, water and sidewalks.

Oct. 22, 1946, the first three units arrived on two flatcars at the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad's South Hamilton yard at Central and Pleasant avenues. The 20x100-foot units had been removed from Camp McCain in Mississippi. As work progressed, the estimate of Hamilton's housing shortage climbed to 1,300 units. The first families moved into two units at Vets Village March 26, 1947. By Sept. 17, 1947, more than 300 people in 70 families had occupied units rented for $30 a month for three rooms and a bathroom, equipped with a stove and ice box and including water and electricity. The units weren't wired to handle electric refrigerators. Rent for four and five-room units was $33 and $35, respectively. The units were gradually vacated and razed as more desirable housing was built in the early 1950s.



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