KANNAPOLIS Museum / Hinson History Room
Young Veterans returning home from the battlefields of World War II found a different world awaiting them. Those who returned to the boy or girl next door obtained marriage licenses in record numbers in late 1945, prompting newspapers to report that Cupid had certainly survived the war. They found little housing available, many being forced to live with relatives or search for a room which could be rented. Few kitchen appliances or bathroom fixtures were available, as materials used in this construction had been diverted to the war effort. While discussions of the housing shortages were underway on the national level, Charles A. Cannon of Cannon Mills Company in Kannapolis decided to take action to relieve the acute local housing shortage. His representatives visited a plant which claimed it could produce large number of small four rooms prefabricated homes suitable for newlyweds or a small family. Only a week later, the Kannapolis Daily Independent newspaper reported in its November 25, 1945, edition that Cannon Mills Company had decided to erect two of the homes as "Samples" to determine whether they would be suitable for local needs.
Foundations were prepared on lots along the Enochville Road (West "C" Street) for the two houses, which were to be set up within a day of their arrival. If the houses satisfied prospective local tenants, the Company had decided to make a large plot of land west of Kannapolis Cemetery available for building sites. On December 2, 1945, the Independent featured a picture of the first two houses erected by Cannon workmen under the direction of construction engineer L. A. Yorke. Hundreds of people had visited the first two houses and found them satisfactory, prompting Company officials to erect four additional houses on a trial basis. The desire for the little houses proved so strong that C.A. Cannon authorized a total of fifty to be built. Despite harsh December weather, foundations were laid, new streets were cut, and power lines were run to the construction area. Despite the weather, 26 of the new homes had been completed by January 24, 1946, with 24 more planned. The houses were brought into town in sections, so that four men could assemble one of the houses in less than a day. The bathroom space could be used for closets until bathroom fixtures became available. The new construction was badly needed. By Mid-February 1946, the Daily Independent began a public service effort to help local residents locate all available housing. The newspaper announced that it would list houses, apartments or rooms for rent in its advertising section without charge. Within a few days, some 50 families had filed a completed questionnaire with the newspaper, representing some 150 persons desperate for housing.
Eventually over 100 families, some 300 persons would use the paper's offer to apply for housing space. A short time later, on February, 24, 1946, local news accounts referred to the new community as "G. I. Town" for the first time. By that time forty of the now houses were occupied, most of them by returning veterans who were employees of the. mill. Demand for "G.I" houses continued with returned veterans anxious to start their families there at the modest rental of $5.00 each two week pay period. Eventually, about 100 of the 20 by 24 foot dwellings would be erected. Many present day Kannapolis residents can trace their roots to that community of tiny but durable little homes which served the needs of several generations of Cannon employees. After the Company was sold to financier David Murdock, many of the houses, were moved from the original site. Kannapolis History Associates acquired the last unaltered house still standing in the community. The organization hopes to maintain the restored house at 905 King Street as a permanent memorial to the Veterans of all wars, and as a visible sign of honor from a grateful community, Judge Clarence Horton Text: The Honorable Judge Clarence Horton. Pictures: Norris Dearmon