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What’s a Quonset hut — and why are they all over Fort Worth?

Let’s look back at the history of the rounded metal building to see why it’s so prevalent in Cowtown architecture.

FTW-quonset-hut-history

Originally military housing, Quonset huts were easily adaptable for agriculture, like this 1952 storage building in Crowley.

Photo courtesy of UTA Libraries

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While high-profile developments are rising all over the city with soaring heights and swanky glass curtain walls, humble metal buildings are making a comeback. We’re diving into the history of Quonset huts and why they are so prevalent in Cowtown.

What’s a Quonset hut?

The semi-circular metal buildings were first developed in 1941 by the George Fuller construction company for the US Navy. The form got its name from the location of its first Naval station: Davisville Naval Construction Battalion Center at Quonset Point, Rhode Island.

Modeled after the WWI Nissen hut, the light-weight corrugated steel was easy to mass produce and quick to assemble, making them popular shelters for military personnel. Another bonus, the buildings can be quickly disassembled and transported.

Photo of cattle pens in a parking lot outside of the Will Rogers Memorial Center.

The vaults of the Livestock Exhibits barns are shallower than traditional Quonset huts.

Photo by FTWtoday

Why did Quonset huts come to Cowtown?

Due to their low cost, durability, and versatility, Quonset huts rose in architectural popularity — and not just for military buildings. They made quick barns for farming and ranching communities like Fort Worth.

Built in 1948, the Livestock Exhibits Buildings at Will Rogers Memorial Center use a modified Quonset hut-style with a ventilation clerestory — those windows along the ridge line — added at the top of the vault.

The PS 1200 development is located in the Near Southside.

The PS1200 development is located in the Near Southside. | Renderings provided by Marlon Blackwell

Where can you see them now?

PS1200 | 1200 Sixth Ave.
The new Prince Concepts development in the Near Southside features eight, two-story Quonset huts.

Quonset Ballroom | 2608 W. Dickson St.
The 4,000-sqft metal shed used to house a lawn care business and is currently undergoing a renovation to be turned into a 250-person event venue.

Zoli’s Pizza | 3501 Hulen St.
Grab some pizza in the sliced open Quonset hut designed by Studio 97w in 2019.

West 7th District office | 1000 Foch St.
Located next to Backyard, the two-story metal building was remodeled into offices by Cunningham Architects in 2010.