Residential Housing Post WWII

Background The end of World War II marked the beginning of a housing boom throughout the United States. Many returning soldiers became first time home owners with the help of government acts, including the National Housing Acts and the 1944 Serviceman鈥檚 Readjustment, known as the GI Bill. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, home ownership growth in South Carolina remained stagnant from 1900 up until 1940. But between 1940 and 1950, ownership climbed 15 percent (30.6 to 45.1%). By 1960 the number of home owners in the state reached 57.3 percent. Automobile ownership also drastically increased in the post-war period. The construction of improved freeways and the interstate highway system led to citizens having easy, quick commutes to work, allowing housing developments to flourish outside cities and downtowns. The proliferation of residential construction led to the expansion of planned communities and the suburbanization of many American cities. Some of these communities were planned subdivisions, with a land developer, one or two builders, and planned streets and public facilities. Other communities grew more slowly as neighborhoods developed. Neighborhoods are more likely to feature a mix of architectural styles and lot divisions. Post-war architectural trends also carried over to the country where rural residents constructed the new styles. Styles & Characteristics New residential architectural styles emerged after the war, including the splitlevel, while others that appeared earlier gained popularity, such as the Minimal Traditional and Ranch. These two styles are further discussed below because of their commonality throughout South Carolina. Residential architectural styles after World War II also include various Ranch styles, including the Transitional Ranch, A-frame, Cape Cod, bi-level, contemporary, neo-Mansard, and other revival forms. In addition, prefabricated houses became more popular. For descriptions and characteristics of these styles, please see the NCHRP Transportation Research Board鈥檚 publication A Model for Identifying and Evaluating the Historic Significance of Post-World War II Housing (PDF). The high demand for housing also created the need for a new, more affordable type of construction. Small housing styles, such as the Minimal Traditional, began popping up all over because their small, minimal design was quick and cheap to construct. Simplifying construction by mass producing materials and having construction teams consist of semi-skilled workers was also part of the answer. Materials such as plywood wall panels, sheet rock, asphalt shingles, and concrete-slab became common because of their low cost and quick installation. Although concrete gained popularity as a construction material, brick veneer construction and brick chimneys are characteristics of post-war houses as well. Siding materials varied with wood or asbestos shingles, brick veneers, clapboard, aluminum, and simulated products (Permastone, fiberboards, etc.). 1 Aluminum windows became more typical, but wood windows are also still common. The design of windows also changed from earlier housing. Before or during the war, houses typically had smaller window panes; while post-war houses feature larger window panes with decorative designs (see below). Significant Style Characteristics (may vary in appearance and use) Single-Family Ranch 鈥 One-story 鈥 Low horizontal form 鈥 Rectilinear or 鈥淟鈥 plan 鈥 Concrete slab foundation or crawl spaces 鈥 Low-pitch gable, hip, or modified hip roof, broadside to the street 鈥 Roof materials predominantly asphalt shingle 鈥 Carport or garage 鈥 Exterior walls primarily a combination of siding materials or brick 鈥 Rectangular or square window or door openings 鈥 Steel casement and aluminum horizontal slider windows 鈥 Decorative windows: large single-pane picture windows, window walls, clerestories, bay windows, corner windows, diamond panes 鈥 Wide or prominent chimney Minimal Traditional 鈥 One or one-and-a-half stories 鈥 Simple, lacks decorative detailing 鈥 Rectilinear or 鈥淟鈥 plan 鈥 Typically no attached garage or carport 鈥 Low or intermediate roof pitch 鈥 Eaves and rakes close building 鈥 Gable roof, often with a cross gable 鈥 Chimney 鈥 Relatively small windows with divided lights, wood or steel frame 鈥 Exterior walls typically wood siding, although aluminum is common on later examples Subdivision Development Characteristics 鈥 Landscaping features, including uniform building setbacks, lakes, streams, trees, and other park-like features 鈥 Street plans and names, especially cul-de-sacs and themed street names in the neighborhood 鈥 Signage 鈥 Schools, churches, and other community buildings highlighted or featured in the development E