What was a home like in the 1940's and how much did they cost
Even though the war started in the year 1939 homes were still being built everywhere during that year and on into the 1940s. In fact, according to a New Year's Eve issue of Lima Press nearly 500 thousand dollars (equivalent to millions of dollars in today's money) was spent on local home construction just before the turn of the decade (1939).
By 1940 the amount of money spent on home building and/or construction (and/or home buying) in the late 1930s had surpassed the half a million dollar mark for the Lima area. This was most likely a result of the Federal Housing Administration (F.H.A.) involvement that started in the year 1934, and inflating cost of materials needed to build these homes.
In case you are wondering, the F.H.A. gave the right people and/or groups insured loans to be able to buy homes. If you read the 1930s article you will learn of the criteria for receiving an F.H.A. loan. The major incentive of this organization was to make home living as safe and as inviting as possible to anyone who would live in a certain dwelling.
Shelter Homes Built During Wartime
During wartime (World War II 1939-1945), several hundred homes in the Athens, Ohio area were built for the purpose of housing war workers. These homes were very commonly referred to as "shelter homes" as indicated by a 1945 copy of a local Athens, Ohio news publication.
These shelter homes that were built usually housed two to four families under one roof. There were a total of 700 of these homes built in all between the years of 1942 and 1943 (plus hundreds of other dwellings) built in the Point Peasant area.
These wartime shelter homes were built with some of the most modern necessities of the times. For instance, amenities such as heaters, kitchen ranges, light fixtures and bathrooms (presumably ones with flushing toilets) were installed in many of these homes.
Building these shelters probably would seem to most people even now to be an excellent idea. However, not very many of them were occupied. As a result a large number of these shelters were moved to areas such as Tennessee, Indiana, and Kentucky.
(These houses were either dismantled or carried down the river). Most likely the reason that not many of these homes were lived in is because of hard economic times preventing people from purchasing them.
Homes for World-War II Veterans
Part of the gruesome post-war recovery process included the process of providing adequate housing for war veterans. This was part of an effort to help wartime families and individuals to get back on their feet again.
However, making sure that there were enough homes for war veterans was a challenge. The world's resources had been very much exhausted during this time and it was hard to find the materials for home building after the war.
The other problem was that it was not for at least a couple of months after the war that building restrictions were limited. People who wanted a new home built anxiously awaited-often only to be disappointed-for the chance to be offered a home building permit.
Likewise, builders carried on with building plans even though those plans would be delayed due to the building material shortage. This period of time was very frustrating-to saying the least-for war veterans as well as their families.
It took years from this time to create enough homes to meet the needs of the post-war population. This was a process that became more a reality in the mid 1950s, which you will learn more about by doing further reading.
Characteristics of 1940s Homes
The use of wallpaper for interior design became more prevalent. Carpeting was used more often as well, most likely because of its ability to help insulate a home. Furthermore, installing a carpet in rooms of a home could be thought of as an alternative form of creative expression.
Asphalt was sometimes used in homes, as indicated in home want ads of an early 1940s newspaper. It was primarily used for kitchen tiling and/or roofing. Bathroom fixtures were quite often made of chrome during this time.
Additional amenities of a 1940s home would include items that are thought of as necessities by today's building standards. For instance, a hot water heater, barbecue patio, double garage, and/or heating system would be included in the sale of a specific home.
The exterior of a home built during this decade was often of a red brick siding, and the interior home flooring was often of hardwood, just as it was in earlier decades. Other luxuries of 1940s homes included newly-installed roofing, kitchen cupboards, spacious rooms, and thermostat controlled heat.
Tile flooring and walls in bathroom as well as duel gas furnaces were also characteristic of some of these homes. Furthermore, these homes were often placed on large lots with fertile soil.
Tenement homes and other multiple units were also springing up during this time period. The following is an example of a multi-unit tenement that was displayed in an Oakland, California newspaper:
After the war, housing materials and furnishings were more lavish than during the war. Chair and foot rest sets were very common, and they were made with spring seats, rounded cushions, and/or heart-shaped back.
You will get an idea of what these furniture pieces look like when you view the following photos:
Another signature furniture piece of the 1940s was the seven-way floor lamp, which at the time only sold for $9.95 new. The image below can help you visualize how tall these lamps stood.
Seven-Way Lamp Photo
Home Heating Systems in the Late 1940s
It may interest you to know what heating furnaces looked like in the late 1940s. Some houses even have these models still installed in their homes today. Take a look at the following photo:
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