Building 42 Hostess House
Thousands of visitors come to the National Museum of the American Sailor each year to view artifacts on display in the exhibits, but did you know our largest historic artifact is the building itself? Architect Gordon Bunshaft of the prominent firm Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill designed the facility, which is a classic example of Mid-Century Modern (MCM) architecture. Building 42 is the only surviving World War II-era example of Bunshaft’s work. Originally named the “Hostess House,” Building 42 opened in 1942 as a place for sailors and their loved ones to meet and say their “hellos” and “goodbyes.” The building could accommodate up to 3,000 visitors at a time, making it the ideal place for sailors to be discharged after World War II. With almost 970,000 sailors attending boot camp at Great Lakes during World War II and thousands of service members out-processed at the facility after the war, thousands of boots pounded the Hostess House’s floor. As a majority of those served came through Building 42, it holds a special place in many service member’s hearts. Now a national museum, it once again serves as a gathering place for sailors and their loved ones.