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Pammel Court, Married Student Housing
Postcard photo from 1947

The end of World War II and the return of Veterans to the Iowa State College campus resulted in a serious housing shortage.  The fall enrollment in 1945 was 8407, but the following year it jumped to 9216, of whom 1100 were married students.  The influx of families introduced an entirely new problem for the college's residence department because until that time, housing had been provided only for single students in existing residence halls.

In October 1945 the first steps were taken to prepare for married couples through the acquisition of trailers and demountable houses obtained from the federal government from war production sites where they were no longer needed.  By January 3, 1946, the Iowa State Daily Student reported that "Thiry-six of the proposed 150 temporary housing units for Iowa State's married veterans will be ready for occupancy by noon today.  Seven families have moved in to date."  The first units were set up in what had been the polo field on the north side of Pammel Drive, north to the railroad.  (This area was later occupied by the Communications Building, Ames Lab buildings and parking lots.)

In March 1946 a grocery store was erected, utilizing a structure that had previously been a storage bin on the Agricultural Engineering Farm.  In May, 50 quonset huts and 50 more trailers were added.

During the fall of 1946 the college obtained 317 barracks type buildings, providing 734 living units.  Erected by the Kucharo Construction Company, most of these units were set up in the area north of the railroad in the areas later known as east and west Pammel Court.  Others were erected to the northeast of the previously developed area south of the tracks.  In all areas, the college provided water, sewer and electricity, and developed the roads and general site improvements.  A map of the Pammel Court Housing Project showing all units both north and south of the railroad appeared in the Iowa State Daily Student on February 15, 1947.

At peak occupancy, there were 152 trailers, 50 quonset huts (each holding two families), 79 demountable houses, 704 metal barracks (534 two bedroom and 200 single bedroom), and 65 private trailer lots.

H. Summerfield Day, The Iowa State University Campus and It's Buildings

(photo courtesy of Hank Zaletel)
A recreation building for children was built by Pammel Court residents in the spring and summer of 1947.  This later became the Driver Education Building.

The original ownership of the various units was in the name of the Federal Housing Administration, but that was transferred to the College on July 1, 1947.  A contract to install ceiling insulation in the barracks type buildings was awarded in January 1948, and the work was accepted two months later.  A new grocery store was built in "North Pammel Court" in the fall of 1947.  When it closed in March of 1952, it became a recreation center.  In 1949 electric meters were installed on all units except the trailers.

The trailers were "decommissioned" and removed between 1950 and 1952, and by 1967 all units south of the tracks were eliminated from the program.  Most had been removed from the campus.  A few remained and were used for storage for another two or three years.

By 1968 there were 668 units in use in the east and west areas north of the tracks.  Sixty-six units were eliminated in 1973 when grading for the 13th Street extension was undertaken.  Other units, those in the greatest need of repair, were decommissioned as new units in Schilletter Village became available in 1974-76.  By 1979 there were still 522 units in use.

H. Summerfield Day, The Iowa State University Campus and It's Buildings
View photos of Pammel Court units after several decades of occupancy.
Here is the way the ISC quonset hut village and Pammel Court appear from the air.  There are 50 2-family quonsets almost ready for occupancy, and work will start soon on an additional 734 housing units to be located across the tracks at the upper part of the picture, between the two rows of trees.  There is a waiting list of 1,200 veterans on file at ISC waiting for places to live in these housing units or other housing, available within a 10-mile radius of Ames. 

Undated 1946 Ames Daily Tribune article from the archives of  First United Methodist Church of Ames
Ames Daily Tribune, August 24, 1959

A touch of Americana is being moved from Iowa State University as the quonset huts put up for veterans of World War II and their families will soon be a thing of the past.  It is hard for the layman to believe, but true: there are more married students attending Iowa State today than immediately following the war.  In the fall of 1947 there were 1,184 married students out of a total enrollment of 9,599 or 12 per cent.  Last fall there were 2,125 married students out of a total enrollment of 9,503 or 22 per cent.

As the students who are presently living in the quonset huts graduate, the space in the 100 quonset apartments will not be reassigned.  They should all be vacated a year from today, said J.C. Schilleter, director of residence at Iowa State.  The foundations on the huts, which were first occupied in 1947, are badly in need of repair.  "The reason for replacing the huts," said Schilletter, "is that it is time to replace them rather than spend money to get them repaired."  The area now occupied by the huts will probably turned into a parking lot and as the campus expands in all probability will become the site for a new building.

Policy at Iowa State is to provide housing for roughly one-half of the married students in school.  As part of this program 100 new units in the Hawthorn project will be opened this upcoming school year.  These units will rent for $56 plus utilities.  Water is furnished by the University to all of the married student housing projects but the other utilities, such as gas and electricity, are metered.

The Hawthorn project was opened two years ago when 96 units were placed in operation.  These units rent for $52.50 a month.  Other married student housing includes 728 army-type barracks and 73 prefabs.  The barracks, prefabs and huts all rent for $26 a month. "Evidentually we will have to replace the barracks and prefabs," Schilletter said.

A trailer court has been moved out of Pammel to make way for a metals development building to be constructed by the Atomic Energy Commission.  The university has purchased 80 acres northeast of the eastern part of the golf course for expansion of married student housing.  Since the area is near the new high school, city storm sewer and water will be available.

"Some day," Schilletter continued, "we hope to build 500 new units on this 80 acres.  It is entirely possible that when we build on this land we will go to a two-story and more permanent type construction, such as brick."

Last fall there were 897 married students living in Pammel Court, 81 in Hawthorn, 193 in rural areas, 723 off-campus and 231 in surrounding towns.  There were 2,334 men living in single residence halls, about 1,200 women living in women dorms and about 1,700 single students living off campus.  It is estimated there were approximately 1,300 living in fraternities in the fall of 1958 and 400 in campus sororities.

Lavern Williams (the man in the loader), heavy equipment operator with Campus Services, knocks down one of eight World War II-era apartment blocks at Pammel Court student housing Tuesday afternoon.  "They put a lot of kids through school," said Williams, who said he remembered when the units rented for $15 per month.
Daily Tribune, August 6, 1996
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