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Camp Howze Museum

Housing Crisis

With the opening of Camp Howze, Cooke County and the surrounding areas were faced with a housing shortage. These small farming towns were not equipped to handle a massive migration of soldiers and their families, and these cities did not have the infrastructure to accommodate them. Massive construction projects were undertaken such as the Gainesville housing community known as “Howzeville”. 

Residents throughout the North Texas area, mainly within the confines of Cooke County and more specifically the cities of Gainesville and Denton, were warned of the incoming migration to their communities. Most residents welcomed these transients to their communties with open arms. Once the building of Camp Howze began, soldiers, workers and their families flooded into the area, many with no housing waiting for them.

Local residents in the surrounding towns and larger cities such as Denton were asked to open their homes to these families. Residents were asked to charge low or no rent, as it was considered their patriotic duty to help the war effort in any way possible. If residents were aware of any residential spaces that were vacant or soon to be vacant, they were asked to list these spaces with their respective Chamber of Commerce. Some of these housing communities were akin to Depression-era “shanty towns” due to their hastily built nature.   

Officer Lieutenant Thomas Arnold was quoted in a 1942 edition of the Denton Record Chronicle as saying, “It’s little enough that anyone can do these days to make an officer and his family who are far away from their own home, as comfortable as possible. Some families might even find it convenient to move in together… I know that such arrangements as these would be special sacrifices, but Army personnel must be housed, and from the reputation Denton people have for hospitality, I know they will find a way to do it.” Lieut. Arnold also urged that houses and apartments should be made to look very attractive before they are listed to rent.

Once the war concluded, a majority of the population who moved to the area for Camp Howze operations returned to their previous homes. Many residental communities and houses built for these residents were left abandoned and population dropped.