Helping Hiroshima

Houses for Hiroshima

Forestry scholar Floyd Schmoe came up with a plan to build houses for people in Hiroshima. This project was called "Houses for Hiroshima", and it resulted in houses and other forms of compensation for people suffering due to the bombing.
To implement this project, the Friends Pacific Yearly Meeting and the Japan Friends Years Meeting cooperated to raise funds. The money eventually came from Canada, France, China and other countries around the world. In August 1949, Schmoe and his colleagues arrived in Hiroshima and began building the first houses.

Construction moves forward on "Houses for Hiroshima" September 13, 1949 Minami-machi
Courtesy of Chugoku Shimbun
"Houses for Hiroshima" started with the construction of two semi-detached tenement houses on a municipal housing site in Minami-machi. Construction carried on through the summer heat with the help of friends and associates.

Building the houses together with friends 1949 Kami-nagarekawa-cho Hiroshima Nagarekawa Church
Courtesy of Chisa Tanimoto
While building their first Houses for Hiroshima, the Schmoes stayed at the Hiroshima Nagarekawa Church. The construction was carried out by teams of foreigners and Japanese, with nearly everyone working as a volunteer.

Restoration of "Houses for Hiroshima" built in Minami-machi According to the report by Schmoe, the houses included a kitchen, bathroom, and two Japanese-style rooms, six-tatami mat in size.

Commemorative photograph in front of finished Houses for Hiroshima 1949 Minami-machi
Courtesy of Chisa Tanimoto
There were applications for housing from 3,800 families when the first houses were finished in Minami-machi although the city could only select four families.

Floyd Schmoe and Mayor Hamai talk while looking at stone lantern in the garden October 1, 1949 Minami-machi
Courtesy of Chisa Tanimoto
In the garden there is a stone lantern inscribed with "That There May Be Peace" in both English and Japanese, symbolizing the philosophy of Schmoe. The houses and garden symbolized the wishes and prayers of Schmoe.

Floyd Schmoe building the "Houses for Hiroshima" October 4, 1952 Eba-machi

House envisioned by Floyd Schmoe Eba-machi
Courtesy of Hiroshima Municipal Archives
When Schmoe came to Japan in 1950 eight of the houses had been completed with some having a new design that included a terrace and bathroom. This was used as a model house for display to the general public with a large number of people coming to view it.

"Houses for Hiroshima" gathered at the foot of Ebasara-yama Hill Eba-machi
Courtesy of Hiroshima Municipal Archives
Houses were built every year at the foot of Ebasara-yama from 1950 to 1952. In addition to houses, a community center was constructed in 1951.
Final report on the Houses for Hiroshima project in 1950 (copy) Courtesy of University of Washington Libraries, Special Collections According to this report, roughly 500 participants from around the world raised $10,000 and built houses for the Houses for Hiroshima plan. A team of nine built a model house and seven residences in the Eba area. The model house was open to the public and drew many visitors.