Nitrate Village One

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

There are planned communities of today like those we all think of on 30A, and before that the government was putting together huge neighborhoods to support certain efforts, like this one I saw in Sheffield, Alabama with...well...cute red-roofed bungalows.

In 1918, the government built a neighborhood of 85 homes -- red tile roofs, white stucco exterior -- a school, parks, and barracks for personnel working in Nitrate Plant #1. As this was during WWI, patriotic sentiment was probably particularly high and the neighborhood was laid out in the shape of the Liberty Bell.

It all came about from a 1917 contract between the US and Airnitrates Corporation, a subsidiary of American Cyanamid, to build the largest plant in the world for the manufacture of ammonium nitrate. During construction of the plant, some workers were even housed in family tents and the workers consumed daily '7 tons of meat, 6 tons of bread, 9 tons of potatoes, 2000 dozen eggs, 1-1/2 tons of evaporated milk, and several tons of other miscellaneous groceries.' The plant was completed in eight months and eight days. (Architecture and Building, Vol 51)

Nitrate Village One, TVA, Sheffield AL

In 1922, it was reported to a Congress subcommittee of appropriations that Nitrate Village One consisted of 2600 people, and the representative asked for $2000 to pay for a teacher ($1500) plus an extra $500 for incidentals, explaining that any unspent balance would be returned to the Treasury. (Sundry Civil Appropriation Bill, 1922)

The planning was done by the firm of Mann and MacNeille of NY, who were brothers-in-law. More about them and their other work here.

Liberty Bell shape:

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