Prior to World War II, the Army and Navy were relatively small services, and the percentages of married troops and sailors was quite small. But in the wake of World War II, and with the beginning of the Cold War, for the first time, America had a large standing Army and Navy. And the numbers of married soldiers and sailors, both in raw numbers and as a percentage of the force, swelled. For the first time, housing for family members became a real issue for the force. Previously, posts had only a handful of quarters available on post for families. The rest were expected to find rental quarters off post. But the huge numbers of families overwhelmed available housing outside the gate of most posts.

In response, Congress first passed the Wherry housing program. Contractors would build quarters and lease them to the military for 40 years. But the program was considered a failure due to a lack of standard designs, cramped quarters, and poor quality control.

The next initiative was more successful. Named after its sponsor in the senate, Homer Capehart (R-IN), a series of standardized housing designs were produced. With Capehart housing, private contractors would build to the design provided by the government, and the government would retain ownership of the quarters, and provide, either through Public Works or contractor support, all maintenance and infrastructure support. In effect, the post commander would be the landlord. Before a post could receive funding for Capehart housing, the service had to assure the Congress that the installation was a permanent one, and would not be closed in the foreseeable future.

Between 1955 and 1964, nearly a quarter million Capehart housing units were built nationwide.

And if Capehart housing isn’t terribly attractive, it has been long lived.  Most installations that had Capehart housing still use it. Over the last 60 years, surely millions upon millions have called these cookie cutter houses home. Indeed, I spent five years in them.


Filed under armor

10 responses to “Capehart

  1. Huh. I remember Capehart Housing on The Rock. I never knew why it was named so.
    Learned something new. Cool.


  2. Painted gray, it makes a rather attractive little house!


  3. I lived on a few Army posts. A common saying regarding housing maintenance was, “What’s yellow and sleeps four?” A DEH truck.


  4. Pingback: Capehart Housing - US Message Board - Political Discussion Forum

  5. I saw a bunch of those units on various AFBs and Ft. Campbell. We never lived in base except in Germany as my parents did not want to live on base. I spent a bunch time riding a bike around Lackland and Kelly, however. Both still had a lot of WW2 buildings and Capehart housing, although Lackland was slowly replacing theirs at the time.