Throwback Thursday: Alphabet Houses in Richland - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Throwback Thursday: Alphabet Houses in Richland

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RICHLAND, WA - For this week's Throwback Thursday, we're going back in time nearly eighty years.

Reporter Kristina Shalhoup took a tour through Richland and learned about what the city was like decades ago, and how it got to be the way it is today. 

Today, the City of Richland has more than 53,000 residents...that's a long way from the 247 it had in the year 1940.

"It was a pretty small little town that didn't have much of a future," said Richard Nordgren, an Alphabet House tour guide.

But that all changed once World War II hit the United States.

"Early on, they envisioned a workforce of thousands of people, plus their dependents," Nordgren said.

A workforce headed to Hanford. 

"There wasn't enough housing stock in the entire region to support all the people that would be working at Hanford. They had to build the workers' houses."

And so, with the help of an architect from Spokane named G. Albin Pherson, the Alphabet Houses were quickly underway.

"He designed the As and Bs, Ds, Es, Fs, Gs, and Hs, then skipped over to Ls and missed the Cs entirely!" Nordgren exclaimed.

Each letter corresponded to a different design. Some houses had second floors, some had basements, some were large, and some were small.

"The E house had 1,201 square feet inside the walls," said Nordgren.

But in the end, they were all meant to accommodate the thousands of people pouring into this newly settled area, and we have them to thank for the community we have today.

"If it hadn't been for the government presence in Richland, we might be a small little farming community still!"

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