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AMSE’s flattop evokes memories for an Oak Ridge visitor

This piece on the Roane Views website is a nice feel-good story about preserving little bits of local history: Number 68 Comes Home

The author lived in a flat-top house on West Outer Drive around 1950, and was able to visit the flat-top that’s now on display at the American Museum of Science and Energy, apparently during the Secret City Festival. The experience made this visitor proud to have lived during that era, and the visitor says: “I think it’s a great addition and wonderful way of preserving history.”

They even posted photos on Flickr



  1. Ellen Smith says:

    Some cool comments from the Facebook mirrors of this post:

    Mine no longer has a flat top, but I do live in a B-1 from 1943.

    Ellen’s reply:
    I didn’t know that, Emily. For some reason, I thought you were still in Woodland. How does it feel to know that a house like yours is in a museum?

    Jerry Kuhaida:
    Would you believe that when we (5) moved to Oak Ridge in 1952 we stayed in a flat-top for 6 weeks until we got a house. There 5 of us and the 3 Ashers (Earl, his wife and son Sammy) in the east end of town. I don’t remember any complaining, of course that could have resulted from shock.

    Emily’s reply to Ellen:
    I’ve always loved museums, from the time I was weensy. Everything about my house seemed like it was Meant to Be, actually. I ran into some money (I was living in Woodland, and I still go there pretty much every day, to visit my parents and walk Polly, the prettiest liver-spotted Dalmatian in town) and I decided I couldn’t stomach paying any more rent. I went driving around town with my mom and we spotted the “For Sale” sign in the yard of my future house, I wrassled up a mortgage, and it all went surprisingly smoothly.

    I hate how so many venerable (historic, by OR standards) buildings and businesses are dismantled to make way for new-new-new. I’m a conservationist and I bought a house I can actually afford because people maintained a small old museum piece. But how many people get edged out of their American dreams because they’re not as lucky as me? Why isn’t the concept of reduce-reuse-recycle-renew applied to housing more often? Take all the B-1s and put ’em in a house museum, charge the people a buck and a half just to see ’em? It feels bittersweet, like I’m standing on the edge of something and it may crumble while I watch.

    That’s a great story, Emily! Still, I don’t think that there are many people today who would consider stuffing 8 people into a flat-top — the situation that Jerry Kuhaida says his family was in for 6 weeks in 1952.

  2. Elaine Kent says:

    In 1946 I visited my sister’s family who lived in a 3BR flattop at 676 W. Outer Dr and decided to stay and work at K-25 and AEC Patrol Hdqtrs. I stayed in OR 2 yrs, there were 3 adults and 3 children living in the flattop and I don’t remember being crowded at all. In 2009, I returned for the 60th Anniv of the Opening of the Gates ceremony. What a thrill it was to return to OR, visit all the places I remember as a young woman and see all the changes that have been made to the city. Some of the flattops are still being owned and occupied today, most have been remodeled and look good, even tho they were supposed to be ‘temporary’. Living and working in OR is one of my fondest memories.

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