When housing demand spiked for returning military service personnel after World War II, Port Washington became the nation’s first city to subsidize housing for veterans. In doing so, the city helped a local manufacturer, the Harnischfeger Corporation, put veterans to work and address the housing shortage at the same time. Best known for making heavy equipment, the company developed an assembly line for self-standing wall panels in 1935 as part of its Great Depression–era plan to diversify beyond its core industry. The company boasted that builders could assemble their modular homes in two days. The original models employed a steel frame, but wartime rationing of steel prompted Harnisch feger to turn to wooden components.
Port Washington’s plan to erect Harnisch-feger housing for veterans initially met opposition from the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO)–affiliated Carpenter’s Union, which prohibited its members from erecting Harnischfeger products because the company insisted on using American Federation of Labor (AFL)–affiliated workers for certain construction tasks. The union issue was resolved by 1947, but a successful lawsuit questioned Port Washington’s authority to fund veterans’ housing. Finally in 1949, state voters approved a constitutional amendment to permit state and local funding of veterans’ housing programs.
With legal obstacles removed, the City of Port Washington purchased nineteen acres from Ted and Margaret Schanen and created a sixty-five-lot subdivision named Schanen Acres. Modular Colonial Revival houses featured either gabled dormers with double-hung sash windows or an oversized gabled dormer punctuated by a circular light above the divided picture window. Interiors featured Kohler Company kitchen and bath plumbing fixtures, enamel steel kitchen and bathroom cabinets, two second-floor bedrooms, and a full basement. All lots were sold by 1951.