Constructed in the 1930s, Gerber Village consists of both single-family and duplex units. Built from standardized plans, this village reflects the military's approach to unified architecture and construction. Although the layout of the village incorporates elements from civilian designs, it also illustrates the military hierarchy, commonly incorporated into post planning at that time.
Gerber Village is located on South Post within the National
Register-eligible Fort Belvoir Historic District. The housing
neighborhood is sited southwest of the Long Parade Ground.
Most of the single-family homes are located between Gunston
Road and Middleton Road and 16th Street and 21st
Street. The Gerber Village duplexes are located to the western
side of Middleton Road, between 21st Street and 23rd
Gerber Village consists of 68 single-family homes and six
duplexes built during the 1930s as non-commissioned officers'
(NCO) quarters. The village provides housing for a total of 80 officers
and their families.
The village was developed in phases. The single-family homes
were constructed in three separate building campaigns, followed
by the construction of the duplexes. The first phase of construction
involved 23 single-family NCO quarters, completed June 1930,
about one month behind schedule. The second phase of construction
involved an additional 35 single-family NCO quarters, completed
May 7, 1931. Extensive records are available for these phases
The remaining four single-family homes were completed in July
1934. Constructed as warrant officers' quarters, these buildings
are located on the south side of 23rd Street.
The houses and duplexes of Gerber Village were constructed
from standardized plans completed by the Office of the Quartermaster
General. The plan type, designated as NCO-11, was also known
as the Camp Humphreys [Fort Belvoir] Type. This plan type
was a popular choice for family housing at several installations
and is considered one of the most prevalent housing designs
on military installations throughout the United States. 2
Resembling Cape Cod cottages, the single-family homes are one-and-one-half story, three-bay, side-gabled, Colonial Revival buildings. Constructed from common bond brick, the buildings feature wood trim and slate roofs. Two gabled dormers surmount the roof, and the accentuated entrances include six-panel doors topped by four-light transoms.
There are two basic plan types for the houses in Gerber Village. The primary difference between the two is the inclusion of
a half basement. Where applicable, the basement area houses
laundry facilities and the building’s mechanical systems. In the homes constructed without a basement, these functions
are incorporated into the first floor.
Apart from this modification, the first floor consists of a living room, kitchen, dining room, two bedrooms, and a full bathroom. An additional two bedrooms and full bath are located on the second floor, often referred to in the plans as the "attic space." Two different entrance options were used interchangeably between the two plans, one featuring pilasters and a pediment and the other a vaulted portico with decorative lattice screening.
There have been some alterations since initial construction. The original wood siding has been covered (or replaced) with
vinyl siding, gable-end louvers have been replaced with larger
openings, and many of the houses are missing the decorative lattice
screening. The majority of the original casement windows,
initially located on the sun porches, have been replaced with
double-hung windows, altering the buildings’ original
Construction of the six duplex NCO quarters began in 1938,
and the buildings were officially completed July 13, 1939. The approximate cost of the project was $48,526.20.3 The duplexes
were constructed according to standardized plans completed
by the Office of the Quartermaster General. The duplex plan
was officially designated as NCO-9 (the Fort Monmouth Type),
a style used at over 25 other military installations. The
contract specified that the basement concrete work be preformed
by Work Progress Administration (WPA) labor with Public Works Administration (PWA) supervision and materials.
The six duplexes provide housing for 12 families. Each building
consisted of two stories and a basement. The brick-constructs
buildings featured wood trim and slate roofs. In addition
to a living room, kitchen, and dining room, the first floor
of each residence includes a sunroom. The sunrooms formed one-story
appendages on either side of the two-story center. Each side
of the duplex also included three bedrooms and a full bath
on the second floor.
The central entrance porch, which is shared by both residences,
is a dominant architectural feature of the façade. Two different entrance options were used, one featuring a
curved standing-seam metal roof, arched windows with fanlight
transoms, stone keys, and string courses aligned with the
heads of the windows and doors. The other, simpler, rear entrance
option includes a flat roof supported by columns.
Only minor alterations appear to have occurred to these buildings. Interior alterations include the combination of the kitchen
and dining room spaces to form one large room.
Statement of Significance
The history of Gerber Village is the story of precedents. These innovations relate to the design of the housing as well
as to the plan, landscape, and location of the village itself.
The Gerber Village neighborhood was the first new housing
built on the installation, known then as Fort A.A. Humphreys, in almost
a decade. The nearby Jadwin Loop, Snow Loop, and Park neighborhoods
had been home to officers since the early 1920s, across the
Long Parade Ground from Gerber Village. The plans for Gerber’s
houses and duplexes were newly developed standardized plans designed
in the 1930s and known, respectively, as NCO-11 and NCO-9. This urge to standardize military housing stemmed, in part,
from a wave of new construction throughout the nation that
began in the mid-1920s and was principally aimed at replacing
"temporary" quarters dating from World War I or
Gerber Village reflected a clearly unified architectural program,
despite its phased construction. The Colonial Revival style
of architecture applied to Gerber’s brick duplexes and
Cape Cod-style single-family dwellings was popular at the
time, particularly along the East Coast and in the Southeast. The plans for Gerber Village featured the common-bond red
brick, gabled slate roofs and wood decorative embellishments
associated with the English-inspired architecture of our colonial
The sturdy, brick construction of the NCO-11 plan-type reflected
multiple objectives embodied in Gerber Village. The use of
brick implied a permanence and strength consistent with a
permanent post, a designation that occurred in 1922. Before
Gerber, the camp’s family housing was primarily wood-constructed. Brick, in addition to invoking a sense of stability and durability,
was easier to maintain. The Army clearly favored the efficiencies
and economies of standardization.
The plan of Gerber reflected other precedent-setting urges. The civilian informality of Gerber’s layout recalled
the growing popularity of the Garden City Movement in Great
Britain and the United States as seen, for example, in the
much-publicized new town of Radburn, N.J., in 1929. Gerber
was planned in conformance with a Jan. 1927 revised installation
plan, its houses clustered along curvilinear, tree-lined streets
that could have been in any town, city, or college campus in
the United States at the time, not the rigid rows and right-angled
grid of the classic military installation. Gerber’s
alleys and back-yard garages provided for everyday necessities,
conveniently located but out of sight. Gerber was sited on
axis with the nearby Long Parade Ground, making the parade
grounds a strong point of visual and physical reference and
military connection without having the houses front directly
Gerber Village was named to memorialize Sgt. Maj. Frederick W. Gerber, the first engineer soldier to receive the Medal of Honor.
Gerber was born in Dresden, Germany, in 1813. He immigrated
to the United States during the 1830s and on Feb. 14, 1839,
enlisted in the 4th U.S. Infantry. Gerber took his discharge
in 1844, but reenlisted at the beginning of the Mexican War
in 1846 as a member of Company A of the Engineers. Gerber
is credited most notably with saving the life of (then Lt.)
George B. McClellan, an officer in the Engineer Company who
later became commander of the Army of the Potomac.
Frederick Gerber refused many offers for a commission, preferring
instead to remain a non-commissioned officer in the Corps
of Engineers. At the beginning of the Civil War, he was appointed
acting sergeant major of the Engineer battalion. In June 1864,
Congress created the permanent position of sergeant major
of the battalion of Engineers, a title which was officially
given to Gerber on Jan. 21, 1867, making him the top enlisted
man in the Corps of Engineers.
Gerber became the first engineer soldier to receive the Medal
of Honor, Nov. 8, 1871. His numerous heroic actions throughout
his military career make the identification of one specific event or occasion impossible. The citation for his medal reads, "Distinguished gallantry in many actions and in recognition
of long, faithful and meritorious services covering a period
of 32 years." Sgt. Maj. Gerber died at West Point on Nov. 10, 1875. 4
Records are included within the collections of the National Archives.
Bethanie C. Grashof. A Study of United States Army Family Housing Standardized Plans. 6 vols. (Atlanta, Ga.: Center for Architectural Conservation, College of Architecture, Georgia Institute of Technology), May 1986.
National Archives at College Park, Maryland. Records of the Office of the Chief of Engineers, 1789-1988, Record Group 77.
4 Belvoir Eagle.
Aug. 7, 2003, pg. 16.