Interview with Dave Harvey

Dublin Core


Interview with Dave Harvey


Hanford Site (Wash.)
Richland (Wash.)
Historic preservation
Nuclear reactors
Conservation and restoration


Dave Harvey moved to Richland, Washington in 1993 to work on historic preservation of the Hanford Site.

An interview conducted as part of the Hanford Oral History Project. The Hanford Oral History Project was sponsored by Mission Support Alliance on behalf of the United States Department of Energy.


Hanford Oral History Project at Washington State University Tri-Cities




Those interested in reproducing part or all of this oral history should contact the Hanford History Project at, who can provide specific rights information for this item.




The Hanford Oral History Project operates under a sub-contract from Mission Support Alliance (MSA), who are the primary contractors for the US Department of Energy's curatorial services relating to the Hanford site. This oral history project became a part of the Hanford History Project in 2015, and continues to add to the US Department of Energy collection.

Oral History Item Type Metadata


Robert Franklin


Dave Harvey


Washington State University - Tri Cities


Robert Franklin: My name is Robert Franklin. I am conducting an oral history interview with Dave Harvey on February 21st, 2017. The interview is being conducted on the campus of Washington State University Tri-Cities. I will be talking with Dave about his experiences working on the Hanford Site and helping to preserve the history of Hanford and the Tri-Cities. And for the record, can you state and spell your full name for us?

Dave Harvey: David Harvey. H-A-R-V-E-Y.

Franklin: And D-A-V-I-D?

Harvey: Oh, yeah, D-A-V-I-D.

Franklin: It’s okay. So, Dave, what is your background and how did you first come to Hanford?

Harvey: Well, I got a degree--[LAUGHTER]—oh, gosh, many years ago—undergraduate degree in American history and government in 1970, back at a private university in New Jersey. And then went to—did various other occupations, but then decided to go to graduate school and came out here to Western Washington University in 1973 and was in history. At the end of my two years in grad school, they were just getting historic preservation kind of component. It was mainly just history, government, what-have-you, and the whole cultural resources management, historic preservation—I should call it occupation, for want for a better term—just got going. I mean, the National Historic Preservation Act wasn’t passed until 1966. So it was kind of like the archaeologists had been doing work on cultural resources, mainly—you know, just archaeological, like with the dams out here, with the construction of all the hydroelectric and irrigation water storage dams.

So there was a lot of need for kind of emergency archaeology to document before those areas were going to be flooded. So they got into the cultural resources management game a lot earlier than historians, architectural historians, you know, landscape architects and what-have-you. So, initially, I would be on field crews with the archaeologists. In fact, I even went to an actual field school in France at one point. I had a lot of interests in archaeology and I got on some digs and so forth. But more and more, my interest and focus was on the built environment and dealing—especially out here in the Northwest, and of course Hanford’s a perfect example. You have this continuum. Besides the prehistory you have the early settlement and the agricultural landscapes. And everything is much more intact. There’s a lot of public land, so there’s a lot of opportunity to go out and document, because federal agencies are required, under National Historic Preservation Act, to—they’re supposed to be proactive to document.  All the cultural resources, whether it’s prehistoric or on the built environment, you know, houses, cabins, agricultural remains, and landscape. It’s just really fascinating. So that’s another attraction for being out here in the Pacific Northwest. And after I got my master’s and then—boy, that was in 1975. Ever since, kind of went back and forth between the built environment and archaeology, but I would say the last 35 years has mainly been dealing with the built environment.

Franklin: And when you say built environment, could you define that term for us?

Harvey: It would be any aboveground structures. And that could be early settlement remains. You know, there’s that fine line. When you come to an old farmstead, homestead, and it’s dilapidated, let’s say there’s just remains. Well, you’re going to use archaeological, maybe, techniques as well. But essentially you can document it and do—go to the historic record to get your information. So it’s basically, you know, that’s the built environment. But it can be like the government homes in Richland. Let’s say you have over 3,000 government homes. That’s the built environment. And I had a lot of experience documenting those just here in Richland.

But out at Hanford, once again, it’s also the industrial Cold War era, Manhattan Project era buildings, and what they call the recent past, which more and more is no longer recent. But at one point when I was working documenting out here for the Pacific Northwest National Lab—that’s what brought me over to the Mid-Columbia, to Richland back in 1993—you know, the Cold War era was basically just ended, and there was a big movement to document these properties before they disappeared. Because technology today—well, even back then, but much more so today—things change so rapidly that you’re going to lose these significant properties and so forth. Yeah.

Franklin: Great. So then, the built environment can encompass anything from a single structure to an entire town or—

Harvey: Yup.

Franklin: Like the Alphabet Homes, to many even thousands of structures connected to a historical event or a historical period.

Harvey: Mm-hm.

Franklin: Right?

Harvey: Correct.

Franklin: Okay. So how did you get—why did PNNL bring you out, or why did you come out in ’93 to—

Harvey: Well, I had been in Seattle. In fact, I had worked as kind of a consultant, freelance, like a lot of archaeologists had done for decades. But there was a need for historians, architectural historians, to document, as we were saying, about the built environment. So I had projects in Alaska, all over Washington, Oregon, California, and then I found out through the State Historic Preservation Office that the Department of Energy—well, actually Pacific Northwest National Lab, Battelle Memorial Institute that operates the lab—was looking for cultural resources specialists but more dealing with buildings and structures. Because they had archaeologists. This was in 1993, so I applied and my wife and I moved over from Seattle.

Franklin: What attracted you about working on the built environment, architectural environment, in Hanford? Or in the Tri-Cities?

Harvey: Well, initially, I don’t know if—I think I gained that appreciation after being here for a while. It sure was quite a transition, especially back in the 1990s. And you could talk to my wife about that. But seriously, it was quite different. I mean, I think today, it would be a much larger community and there’s a lot more things to offer. But at the time, it was quite different. All of the sudden, you’re out here in the shrub steppe environment, and I was so used to the [LAUGHTER] marine, wet environment of western Washington, western Oregon. So it took some transition, but I wouldn’t want to leave now.

Franklin: Was it also a cultural or political transition, as well, coming from Seattle, doing cultural resources work there versus doing cultural resources work here?

Harvey: Oh, yeah! Extremely. And I guess you could say, the Big Sky country. I should actually backtrack a little. One of my quarters when I was doing my masters at Western Washington was with the Bureau of Land Management in south central Montana, south of Billings. I was stationed out of Billings. So I did have some connection with that type of environment, with, you know, the arid west, so-called.

But it was definitely a transition. It was a cultural and [LAUGHTER] political. It was just so different. But I think occupationally, you know, it’s—yeah, I think—well, actually, there had been times, like I even worked a project in central Oregon for a half a year back in the ‘80s, the 1980s, where it was kind of a shrub steppe—that was more of the high desert. So I kind of knew what I was getting into, but I think not so much about Hanford. That was a big transition. Yeah.

Franklin: Had you heard about Hanford before you had accepted—

Harvey: Yeah, and to be honest, I said, gosh, why would anybody want to live—[LAUGHTER] I’ll be honest, because after living in western Washington, it was—the transition—I didn’t appreciate at the time like I do now. And just the wide open spaces and the—I mean, and I’m also looking for personal reasons why we like it over here just from recreational—and so forth. Because we do a lot of hiking and bicycling and so forth. So, yeah, there was a lot of transition going on there. I’m glad we took it.

Franklin: Good. What did you first start working on when you came in the early- or mid-‘90s for Battelle? What were some of your projects?

Harvey: Well, it had to deal with kind of the Manhattan Project/Cold War era industrial properties. A lot of the concrete block buildings. And of course there’s a lot of prejudice against that, meaning, gosh, how are these significant? You get that question all the time. And of course, we’re looking at the unbelievable scientific contributions, what was going on in these properties during the Manhattan Project and early Cold War. And Hanford was one of the—produced over two-thirds of the plutonium for the country’s nuclear arsenal during the Manhattan Project/Cold War. And all these outbuildings and—I shouldn’t even say outbuildings.

But it was kind of—we had to document them because the Department of Energy wanted to tear them down. A lot of them were contaminated, and so they—and part of the Tri-Party Agreement to clean up Hanford, there was this big movement—I think that’s why they needed somebody who had experience with the built environment—with building structures. And there was, I’ll have to admit, a steep learning curve, because I hadn’t worked, necessarily, with these type of buildings. But I caught up pretty quickly. And the scientific and technology, and the unbelievable challenges of what took place. I’m still learning to this day about the Manhattan Project and so forth. And now of course with the National Historic Park, it’s pretty fascinating, and just the contributions.

Franklin: What kinds of resources did you use to document those industrial landscape?

Harvey: Oh, boy. There were a lot of—a wealth of material, archival material, at the Department of Energy and the different contractors. It wasn’t just in one central location; they did have the central files. And that’s changed over the years, where you can get this material. Of course a lot more is available today than back in the ‘90s. And historic photos. And at that time, of course, you could talk to a lot of long—unfortunate—long-time residents and people that worked out there that unfortunately are no longer with us, but we got to talk to them. Especially a number of the early settlers or immediate descendants of the early settlers. And that was pretty fascinating.

Franklin: So you were doing, then, the pre-’43 agricultural documentation as well as the Manhattan Project.

Harvey: Yeah. I was remiss; I didn’t mention that. Yeah, and that was—I came kind of at the perfect time, because a number of these people unfortunately are no longer around. But we got to talk to them and their stories were documented, fortunately. Just the contributions. It was just—and that’s the whole part of the removal of over 1,500—it was more like 1,500 families, as well as the Wanapum Indians up at Priest Rapids. Just becoming exposed to this, it was really—I’d never—see, I wasn’t able to or wouldn’t have had the good fortune of being able to be exposed to that over—if we had stayed in Seattle. Yeah.

Franklin: And so where—in the timeline of remediation or removal of the buildings, when did your work often happen? Was it right before the building had been—

Harvey: Yup.

Franklin: Was there ever an outcome where your work had revealed that a building was— Was there ever an outcome where your work may have changed the decision to remove or tear down a building?

Harvey: Pretty much no, unfortunately. Most of the buildings since then have been removed. But we were able to document them and also get the artifacts. A lot of the industrial artifacts, we tagged and got them removed. Or if they were too large to remove or going to be too contaminated for storage, then we were able to document them. Photo and—

Franklin: So you’re talking now about the Hanford Collection.

Harvey: The Hanford Collection, which you’re in charge of. [LAUGHTER]

Franklin: So can you—what was your involvement with that? Were you there at the beginning of when that was being set up?

Harvey: Yeah!

Franklin: Okay, so can you tell me how that came to be, within the Department of Energy? So, politically and then what steps you took to document artifacts and bring them in?

Harvey: Okay. And I don’t think I answered fully your original question.

Franklin: Oh, sure, sorry.

Harvey: Let me finish that. No, that’s good, that’s great. We documented the buildings, like you said, prior to being demolished. Because the ones that had been determined eligible—and a lot of them, you know, for the National Register of Historic Places, being federal facilities, this is a federal agency, Department of Energy, which is required under the National Historic Preservation Act. Because they—the Department of Energy, as a federal agency, was required to document and basically take into consideration any properties of what we call historic properties, properties that are listed or determined eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places. So they had to take into consideration that these properties—they could go ahead and remove them, demolish them, or modify them. But if they’re found eligible, and then—

Now, fortunately we’ve been able to save B Reactor and a lot of the artifacts from that era from some of the other reactors ended up there. But of course that’s only one of the nine reactors.

But on the others—so this all kind of all of the sudden there was a dilemma here, because you’re going to have to go through this extensive documentation process for each building, almost, or at least ones that have been determined eligible. So that’s—we got into the whole Programmatic Agreement where we had a group of buildings that we’ve—no longer eligible—or I should say we determined not eligible so we didn’t have to do much documentation, if at all. Others were eligible but not really significant. And then we had a third group, really significant that required more extensive documentation. That’s kind of in a general sense. So this Programmatic Agreement was with other contractors, other cultural resource management specialists. I won’t go into all that, but that was kind of signed, I think in 2002. A programmatic agreement with DOE and State of Historic Preservation Office. And that kind of streamlined the whole process.

Now, as part of that, you had mentioned about the industrial artifacts. That was kind of an offshoot of that, because these are just as important sometimes as the buildings themselves. And it’s not—it could be signs, it could be instruments. It’s not necessarily just big pieces of industrial equipment. So anyway, those—then we would go in and tag these. So it kind of made us aware—at least, at the moment, don’t touch these, and then we’ll decide later on, if they end up being contaminated or if DOE can’t remove them, then at least we’ve made record of it.

Franklin: Right, right. How many buildings do you estimate that you were able to perform this documentation of, and/or the artifact removal?

Harvey: Well, see, there were a thousand buildings that ended up—but because there was this streamlined, you know, the Programmatic Agreement, we didn’t have to go to each building. We went to a lot of them. But we—some had already been documented, some—if it was just kind of a generic—let’s say Butler Building, corrugated metal or something like that, might have to just take a picture or something like that. And we did visit—like I said, there was other cultural resources specialists for the other contractors: Bechtel—well, there was Westinghouse and then Bechtel—and so there were a number of other contractors.

And then part of the—I would say, the largest productive outcome of this whole effort was this book, The Manhattan Project Cold War Era Facilities, that kind of outlines and chapters on each significant--whether it’s military operations, the reactors, the chemical separation plants in the 200 Area; the 100 Area, you have the fuel manufacturing. There were all these chapters done on Site security, and research and development. And there was—I think Tom Marceau was the lead editor, I think it was with Bechtel, and there were about seven or eight of us were coauthors of several of the chapters.

Franklin: Okay, thank you.

Harvey: Yeah.

Franklin: Did you directly participate in the efforts to—any efforts at B Reactor—because I know it was a Historic Engineering Landmark, right, and then it’s gained kind of more recognition—

Harvey: It became a National Historic Landmark.

Franklin: National Historic Landmark. Did you participate in any of that?

Harvey: Some of the research. There was a whole—you know, B Reactor Museum Association, which I’m a member. There were a lot of other people that did a lot more work than I did out there. There was a lot of work to do out here. [LAUGHTER] And that was a great success. We’re also looking to kind of preserve landscapes within the new national historic park—Manhattan Project National Historic Park. So we did some background research that have led to realizing—like out at the White Bluffs-Hanford town sites, it’s a larger area of significance than what’s actually strictly in the park.

Franklin: Right, because the park, as of right now, just includes the landmark and not any—not actually any feet around it.

Harvey: Right, and those are the pre-’43, like we were talking about. And you have canals—irrigation ditches, you have remains from the ranches and farmsteads and actually the foundations for some of the buildings. But it goes way beyond the actual little communities of White Bluffs and Hanford. And then there’s a pumping plant out there on the Columbia. So it’s—yeah—and that’s what we’re kind of—that’s what we’re facing now. There is, I guess, I think a lot of agreement, especially Department of Energy, that that boundary should be expanded, when we’re telling the story out there.

Franklin: Are there any buildings that were remediated that you really wished had been saved for this kind of—something like a public park or for the public to view?

Harvey: Yeah. We don’t have anything in the 300 Area, which was the fuel manufacturing. That’s too bad, because you had Building 313, Building 314 and a lot of other labs and so forth. They were all just—they’ve all been removed.

Franklin: Why are those important?

Harvey: Well, that’s where some of the first fuel was manufactured. Before the cores were made into what they call slugs, and then they were transported up to the 100 Area reactors for irradiation. So they were both built in ’43, ’44. So, yeah, it’s kind of too bad that one of those at least wasn’t preserved. But they were pretty contaminated in the walls, underground. But at least we did get to document them. But there’s not much left in the 300 Area from the era, yeah.

Franklin: Are there any buildings that are still up that have been selected for remediation or are in the remediation pipeline that you wish were saved for their historic value?

Harvey: Well, T Plant has an active—is part of the park, but that has an active role right now in cleanup out there in the 200 Area, chemical separation plant. I think that’s what your question is, right? Something that’s still standing now?

Franklin: Yeah.

Harvey: Well, some of the reactors are left, but they’re going to be mothballed except for B Reactor. I think the issue is more that we’ve got about five, six pre-’43 buildings. Now, the bank is pretty much going to be stabilized, the White Bluffs bank, First Bank of White Bluffs. But we do have some—the Hanford High School and Bruggeman’s warehouse and the Allard pumping plant, you know, they could use a lot of work. So at least efforts should go, because we really need to tell that story about the people that were sacrificed—they had to remove for the war effort. Some of the sons that were overseas and they’d gotten note from the parents that they were no longer here, because we had to leave. Yeah, so that will tell that side of the story, which is really important.

Franklin: What about any other reactors that you feel are historic—because I know some reactors are kind of very similar to others, right, like D and F are pretty similar to B. But what about N or FFTF?

Harvey: Well, N would’ve been really decent. That was the last one, and it was the dual generation, could produce steam for electricity as well as plutonium. That would’ve been—yeah, I would have liked to see that one preserved. Because that was the one where President Kennedy came out in ’63 and dedicated. And then I think you had just mentioned the Fast Flux Test Facility. And that was completed in 1982 and that was determined eligible in the ‘90s. Once again, the recent past.

Franklin: Breaking that 50-year—so-called 50-year rule.

Harvey: Yeah, because it was found to be of exceptional importance.

Franklin: And why was that?

Harvey: It was probably the cornerstone of the peaceful usage of nuclear energy, because it was the breeder reactor program, that I think began in the Carter Administration for commercial fuels. It was pretty significant for that. I mean, that’s why it was determined eligible. And we went in—a lot of these, I remember we went in and took videos and so forth. We have extensive documentation as well as photo documentation. But—and to be honest, I haven’t been out there for a good while. I believe some of it’s still standing. But I don’t know—there aren’t any plans to stabilize it. I think it’s going to eventually be totally demolished.

Franklin: Yeah, I believe so, too. How long did you work doing cultural resource work at Hanford PNNL?

Harvey: Through 2005.

Franklin: Okay.

Harvey: And then I went into—I had my own consulting firm for a couple years. I actually worked in Katrina for four months for FEMA. So just—in fact, I remember coming back here in 2006 and helping, I think it was Washington Closure at the time, to document more, or finalize the artifacts. What was going to be preserved or—and then we kind of were eliminating, once again, the artifacts that were either too contaminated or too large to preserve. So I had some work on that. And then I went with an environmental consulting firm in 2007, oh, through 2013, 2014, I guess. And since then, I’ve been pretty much on my own again, at my own consulting firm.

Franklin: And are you still working on Hanford-related projects?

Harvey: Yeah, in fact I have a contract with Battelle, actually through another environmental consulting firm that has a kind of a master services agreement with Battelle. So through that kind of agency or—I was able to get this job with Battelle. And it’s good, because there’s several properties on the Battelle campus that they want to document—they wanted to do this Section 106, National Historic Preservation action compliance work. And the main campus, which is a perfect example of mid-century modernism, I’m working on right now. Another facility in the process of wanting to demolish, so I did the—basically, guiding them with their cultural resource compliance regulations that they have to comply with.

Franklin: Which facility is this?

Harvey: That’s the research technology lab, the RTL.

Franklin: Ah, that’s right. That’s the one you contacted me on.

Harvey: Yeah, it used to be the Donald W. Douglas Labs, constructed in 1996. Douglas United—I should say the Douglas Aircraft Company and United Nuclear kind of did a joined venture and constructed that. They had it until ’71 and then Exxon purchased it and then Battelle purchased it in 1982. It was to do a lot of work on fuel fabrication, the technologies behind that research.

Franklin: And so how—do you think that mid-century modern, kind of corporate campus environment will be maintained there at Battelle, or—

Harvey: That’s the aim. I think they would like me to write up a management plan, kind of a maintenance guide on. You know, because they’re going to be kind of a repetitive type of maintenance things. They don’t want to have to come back every time to the State Historic Preservation Office or go through the whole process. So if we come up with a guide where certain activities that they have to maintain, whether it’s keeping the existing color palette or replace-in-kind, then they don’t have to come back to go through the whole compliance thing.

So we—they realized that it is eligible. It hasn’t been formally determined eligible for the register and now I’m going through that process now. The RTL was found to be an example of commercial modernism. It was constructed, like I said in—actually, it was completed in ’67. So we’re in the process of mitigating that now. And with a memorandum of agreement outlining the stipulations to mitigate the property before it’s—Battelle sells it and/or demolishes it. Yeah.

Franklin: Do you find a resistance in some circles to preservation of the modern or buildings constructed in the ‘60s and on, especially associated with the modernist style of architecture?

Harvey: Oh, yeah! I mean, when I came on with Battelle in ’93, it was even more resistance. Frankly, even with the Department of Energy, which today is not resistant. But, yeah, there’s—we used to call it the giggle factor. [LAUGHTER] They’d say, you want to preserve that? Is that eligible? Why do you have to look at it? And then sometimes with corrugated metal buildings, we might have to go through the process to at least do minimal documentation. And there could have been, you know, with the National Register of Historic Places, under criterion A, if something of significant event or research occurred in that facility, that kind of outweighs, let’s say, its commonness or common construction, which is actually under criterion C. And that can happen.

Franklin: Sure.

Harvey: But it has to be integrity. Property does have to maintain its physical integrity to be eligible as well. But yeah there’s always resistance, and we find in the long run, if you comply, it’s a lot more inexpensive, you know, less headaches.

Franklin: And it’s also more—correct me if I’m wrong, but it’s also more inexpensive to retrofit an existing building, usually, than it is to tear down a building and then move the materials out and then bring in new materials and construct something.

Harvey: In most cases. Now, when you have contamination, radiological contamination, there are issues that certain buildings may be—current owners can’t find a new buyer who could retrofit it possibly, because all the sudden they’re inheriting this type of legacy. [LAUGHTER] You know. So that—and we faced that out at Hanford all the time. In some cases, it’s legitimate, and in some cases, it’s just a way—they want to demolish it and move on.

Franklin: Well, I think that—would you say that the PFP is a good example of that, perhaps a building—Plutonium Finishing Plant—perhaps a building that is of exceptional significance, but is too contaminated to preserve in the traditional sense of preservation?

Harvey: Oh, right. Yeah, we did document as much as we could, but we couldn’t get into certain areas when we were inside. But we did take a lot of pictures of the gloveboxes and the fascinating technology that went on there. Yeah, in that case—I mean, a lot of legitimate concerns. And I think in many cases, in a lot of the buildings and structures like out in the 300 Area, it was underneath the facilities, there was a lot of—in the pipes, there was a lot of contamination. There wasn’t any fear of us walking inside in street clothes to document it.

Franklin: Interesting. Can you tell me about your involvement in documenting the Alphabet Houses of Richland?

Harvey: Yeah, we—in fact, I live in a Q house. Constructed [LAUGHTER] in 19—

Franklin: Did you move into an Alphabet House shortly after you—when you arrived in Richland?

Harvey: Yeah, in 1993, we moved into a B duplex, down by Jefferson Park by Jefferson Elementary School. Those were constructed during the Manhattan Project from ’43 to ’45. And then a year later we purchased—you know, we were renting—we purchased a Q house up further north. I guess you’d say kind of the northeast extension of what we call the Government Home district, just south of Newcomer on Harris, and that was constructed in ’48, the whole neighborhood: Harris, Hetrick and Davison, that neighborhood there.

So that’s when I became fascinated, what are these government homes? Alphabet Homes. And I did a lot of reading, and then in 1995, there was a history conference here. A friend of mine who’s an architectural historian, a colleague in Seattle, she grew up here over on Horn, just a few blocks from where my wife and I are living now on Harris. And at the time, she came over and her parents were still alive. So we decided to coauthor a paper on just the government home, focusing mainly on the Manhattan Project when Albin Pehrson, the architect that DuPont hired to kind of design—he’d had a lot of experience in some federal housing projects back in the ‘30s, but he also was one of the architects from the Davenport Hotel. He was out of Spokane. He had kind of a varied resume, so to speak, work history. So it was fascinating, the struggles that he had with the Corps who wanted just the minimal—very minimal. People think—actually our architecture style is called minimal traditional style. There are some classical elements to—architectural elements to the Q and R and S houses and so forth, and the M houses. But the Corps really didn’t—I mean, they would have just as soon had everybody live in barracks. And Du—

Franklin: Well, and I think the As—is the A the two-story duplex?

Harvey: Yes.

Franklin: I think the As especially reflect that stripped-down, very basic—

Harvey: Yeah.

Franklin: --housing with very little ornamentation.

Harvey: Oh, I know! And they’re even—the Qs and Rs—of course the S is two-story, has a little more features, architectural detailing. But—so that really got me going, doing this paper, and did kind of a follow-up then on the late ‘40s. And then you’re getting into more of the suburban ranch-style houses with the later Alphabet homes: the Ts, U, V and so forth.

So it’s kind of interesting to see how the town did change and adapted more to suburban tastes as we get into the postwar period. You know, garages were built; no longer had the car compounds where people had shared parking, off the street but behind. And you used to be—access for service vehicles—delivery vehicles in the back. But now everybody has fences and so forth. You can still see places that have those car compounds, that still exist in some of the government home areas. So that’s kind of my introduction to the government homes. Since then—you know, of course there have been a lot of tours. CREHST—the CREHST Museum led tours for a while, and there’s other people involved. In fact, I think this month—next month in March, there’s going to be a tour of one of the government homes.

Franklin: Were you involved at the CREHST Museum with the tours?

Harvey: Well, the individual, Richard Nordgren, he does a lot. He and I talked extensively, and I gave him some information. Because I learned a lot from him as well. No, I never was actually part of the tours. I’ve given kind of informal—and then all this kind of led to the establishment of the National Register Historic District for the Gold Coast—it’s Gold Coast Historic District, which is about 200 homes. Does not include my neighborhood, because a lot of the houses across the street have been changed for people wanting better views of the Columbia River. Because I’m across—I’m on the west side—

Franklin: That also, though, doesn’t include, I’ve noticed, some of the—how do I put this—some of the more blue collar homes, like the duplexes, the As and Bs, but also the—I live in a prefab, a two-bedroom prefab which was brought in kind of against Pehrson’s wishes—

Harvey: Oh, right, about 1,800 of them, I think, yeah.

Franklin: Yeah, and they were used primarily more for blue collar workers than white—

Harvey: Yeah.

Franklin: So I’ve noticed even there in the historical record there’s more of a focus on these kind of—the upper end of the Alphabet Houses.

Harvey: Right well, see, I think initially Pehrson wanted a mixture of management and operation employees who lived there, involved in the operation. But what happened was the ones that were closed to the river, and that’s how they got the name Gold Coast, because the management personnel, the upper end, during the—well, in this case it would be when some of the homes just at the end of the war or postwar, they wanted these preferred locations. So, Pehrson’s kind of utopian view, mixture, didn’t really hold much water for long. [LAUGHTER] There was a mixture of housing types, but I think in the long run, it didn’t bear that much—he wasn’t able to keep that intact. And what happened after the war, of course, and then with our neighborhood, you got a lot of the professional occupation, the doctors and dentists moved in. And that’s another reason it was called the Gold Coast. And for the area just south of where we are.

And now, to answer your question, yes, because a lot of the more blue collar were more in the central part and southwest. I guess we had to pick an area where you had to have at least 60% intact of what we call contributing. There was a lot of leeway: you can replace the windows, but you had to keep the dimensions. Because our house is pretty intact. We have all the original dimensions. We have different window material. So there was kind of that, and I think we ended up about 65% of the 200-plus buildings were found to be contributing. So, like I said, you usually have to have at least 60 in district.

Franklin: Did you work on that nomination?

Harvey: Yeah.

Franklin: Oh, okay. So how did you—did you survey each house?

Harvey: Well, we had—a lot of volunteers went out. We took pictures of every home. In fact, it was all over the city, not just what became the Gold Coast. But I helped write up the context, the historic context, and reviewed the statement of significance. I mean, a city—there were a lot of people involved. So I kind of assisted on that.

Franklin: Did you find the homeowners to be pretty amenable to the effort to list on the national register?

Harvey: Yeah, because, well, you see, national register’s more of an honorary. Unless they were going to use some type of government funds for restoration of their homes. Then they have to go through Secretary of the Interior guidelines for architectural detailing and documentation and so forth. To keep within certain attributes, to keep the original architectural integrity as much as possible. But otherwise, it’s mainly honorary. There aren’t that many funds available now. But it also—it’s mainly like if the federal government wanted to come and put a highway through or something. Then, if it’s a historic district like that, then they have to take into consideration, hey, this is a national registered district.

Now, local landmarks would have a lot more teeth, like you have in the city of Seattle, you have a lot of neighborhoods that are historic districts that are landmarks. That’s a lot more stringent. And Portland—I mean there’s a lot of communities. Spokane would be the nearest to us. Well, I shouldn’t even say that. I think maybe Walla Walla and Ellensburg. And you can see economic revitalization goes hand-in-hand with—all of the sudden people take pride in, they’ve got a historic home.

Now, we did a survey—I remember, we had a public meeting with the State Historic Preservation Office, we had the city, and I would say 85% were not in favor of a local landmarks ordinance. They liked the idea of a national registered district because it was honorary. But basically if you have a house in there, you can change it right now. The chance of it ever getting de-listed, someone would actually have to make an attempt to contact the keeper of the register or the State Historic Preservation Office—

Franklin: And change a bunch of houses—change enough houses to—it would actually have to be a concerted effort—

Harvey: Yeah, and to actually get it de-listed. Now, who knows, maybe in the future there’s enough chance—now some people, I have noticed, though, have tried to keep the style of homes that are in the Gold Coast District, so that’s good.

Franklin: So when you were talking about local listing, is that the same as a certified local government?

Harvey: No, that’s—CLG—there’s a lot of benefits to be a CLG—Kennewick is—because they get these grants, block grants, to restore—maybe take off the exterior corrugated metal that was really popular to put on nice brick facades—you know, this was a popular thing back in the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s. And now they got to—and if you go on through downtown Kennewick, it’s an amazing success story.

Franklin: Right, where a lot of that restoration has happened down there.

Harvey: Restoration—and you have to follow Section 106 guidelines and Secretary of the Interior guidelines. And I was on the design review board for about five years. So that would be the benefit of being a Certified Local Government. And you have to maintain historic register of properties and so forth, yeah. So that’s different, yeah.

Franklin: Did you find that, overall, the people that—when you were working on the national register, the people who lived there in the Alphabet Homes knew and appreciated the history of the Alphabet Home and generally wanted to—wanted to preserve that kind of history?

Harvey: Yeah, I think most people even today. I’m trying to think the date when this happened. I think, gosh, it must have been at least ten years ago. Yeah, yeah. We had the State Historic Preservation come over for a meeting and I was on the State Advisory Council on Historic Preservation at the time. So we had them come over and there was a public—we had our public meeting which included the Gold Coast. Yeah, I think there is a lot of—the level of government, they came around. [LAUGHTER] The city government.

Franklin: What about the neighborhoods that have traditionally been more renters or lower income, like a lot of the neighborhoods—thinking about where I live in more central Richland that is mostly As and Bs and then prefabs.

Harvey: Right.

Franklin: I’m wondering—did you—was there ever any surveys made of those?

Harvey: Mm-hm.

Franklin: Do you think they have a—do you think there’s a historic district to be made there, or there’s enough that it has historic integrity?

Harvey: Well, I think we did look at some other areas of the city but that didn’t reach that 60% plateau. And that’s why we picked kind of the area—and then we had kind of that whole theme, that so-called Gold Coast theme. But there are a lot of other cities, communities, across the country where you have so-called blue collar neighborhood or industrial neighborhoods or neighborhoods in transition from industrial—now maybe people coming in and restoring the lofts and so forth, where you do have a lot of pride in that. And you have like automobile rows—they’re looking at Columbia Drive over in Kennewick as part of that. So I think you could still—

Franklin: That’s the old state highway, right?

Harvey: Pardon?

Franklin: That’s the old state highway, Columbia Drive?

Harvey: No, that’s the one through the park. This would be—maybe it’s not Columbia Drive is not the right term. It’s just adjacent to the downtown Kennewick, the historic downtown Kennewick partnership. I thought that was Columbian Drive, but--

Franklin: I could be wrong.

Harvey: Yeah, yeah.

Franklin: You’ve lived here a lot longer than I have.

Harvey: [LAUGHTER] But they have a so-called automobile row or stretch, so they’re trying to appeal to that and put in signage that’s more kind of complementary to that era. But I think there are areas all across the country where you have the so-called blue collar, but you might have a higher degree of rentals. But that doesn’t mean they can’t be maintained, but in some places they’re not, so--

Franklin: Sure, oh, and, well, that’s just--

Harvey: Probably, I mean your neighborhood.

Franklin: That’s part of the economics of the people that own them versus the people that live in them. If you rent, you have less impetus to do a lot of home improvement. If you’re looking at it as a money-making property, you have less impetus to invest in that thing long-term for its aesthetics and its historical integrity.

Harvey: Yeah, that is definitely true. Now, of course if you get into apartment buildings—yeah, that’s different. And you have those in central Richland, in some communities, we have a large apartment building could be eligible for the register, and it’s still all renters in those buildings.

Franklin: Sure, yeah.

Harvey: Yeah.

Franklin: Yeah. Ah. Sorry, I’m trying to think. We’ve covered a lot.

Harvey: Yeah, yeah, this has been great.

Franklin: So what do you currently—so, right now you said you’re currently working on the Battelle campus.

Harvey: Right.

Franklin: Is there anything that we haven’t talked about that you’d like to mention? As it relates to Hanford history or Tri-Cities history?

Harvey: Well, the more recent development, when President Obama signed the establishment for the Manhattan Project National Historic Park which takes in Manhattan Project properties here and the pre-’43, as we mentioned, as well as selective properties in Los Alamos and Oak Ridge. And I got to—I was chosen with Tom Marceau here at Hanford, both of us went back to Washington, DC for the Scholars’ Forum. Which was real big—and you had scholars and people working in cultural resources, historic preservation, at all three sites there as well and of course Department of Energy—

Franklin: Who else was a part of that?

Harvey: And the National Parks Service. Excuse me?

Franklin: Sorry, who else was a part of that forum?

Harvey: Oh, gosh. [LAUGHTER] Trying to think of something—the names—the Atomic Foundation, Cindy—

Franklin: Cindy Kelly.

Harvey: Cindy Kelly. Because she worked here for a number of years, both with one of the contractors and with the Department of Energy. So she’s been very active with the Atomic Heritage Foundation in DC. And, oh, Ellen—Ellen’s last name—she’s out of Los Alamos. Ellen McGehee, she was there from Los Alamos. The Oak Ridge folks, I did not know as well.

Franklin: Were there anybody who had authored any works on Hanford—Bruce Hedley or John Finley?

Harvey: Yeah, thank you. In fact, John Finley and Bruce Hedley, both from University of Washington were there. They actually were the ones that set up—they commented—they were kind of the commenter on my presentation back in 1995 when we did the government homes. So that’s when I first met them. And then John—they both have written a number of books on the Atomic Frontier, the Atomic West and Hanford. Excellent books.

Franklin: What about—was Kate Brown a part of that?

Harvey: And Kate Brown was there. I’m glad you keep mentioning these names because—but also we were expecting the author—he wrote little landmark books on the Manhattan Project and the building of the bomb.

Franklin: Brian Sanger?

Harvey: Well, there was Sanger. He wasn’t there, but he was supposed to be. But there was another gentlemen—ah, can’t think of the name. You keep telling me these names and I’ll remember. But—and then there was the Park Service, a member of the--

Franklin: Who chose the people to be present at this Scholars’ Forum?

Harvey: Well, I think each of the three communities submitted names.

Franklin: Okay.

Harvey: Colleen French with the Department of Energy submitted Tom’s name and myself, and we were accepted.

Franklin: Oh, great. Because I’m just kind of—you know—there’s some people that have renown or certain reputations here, and Kate Brown’s is often a name that’s used—doesn’t always have polite adjectives coming after her name is mentioned or her book is mentioned. So I was kind of curious if you knew how she became involved with that forum.

Harvey: No.

Franklin: Or if there was any kind of cross-currents or anything—any kind of—how were the proceedings of the forum?

Harvey: Oh, I was going to say—there was—I mean, we looked at it as the National Historic Park, there’s many stories to tell in the Park Service. Some people wanted it to be a celebratory-type thing. You know, we built the bomb and helped end World War II. And others saying, you know, no, it should be—it’s more of a commemoration. Let—the Park Service is good at establishing the parameter, the context, and then the visitors make that decision. There’s an internment camp—in fact, this was just the 75th anniversary of the internment of Japanese Americans, and there’s an internment camp in eastern California, near Bishop, I believe. And once again, that’s kind of—they’re telling the story that some might say was not a most glamorous part of American history.

Franklin: Sure.

Harvey: But we’re showing it. And when we talk about Monticello, we talk about the slaves. So the Park Service is really good. And that’s kind of—we struggled with that kind of—the type of themes that we should be—how the Park Service should be telling the story.

Franklin: Can I ask how you personally came down on that issue, whether the park should be one that’s more celebratory or—

Harvey: No, I—

Franklin: Or one that’s—

Harvey: I think just a commemoration. I think each—you know, it’s a lot of significance. We all know about the negative aspect of the Atomic Age, but it is one of the most significant events of the 20th century, by far. And it’s had great technological benefits. It also led to a Cold War and now—which [LAUGHTER] is still—with the spreading of nuclear arms is one of the—oh, I would say, one of the most dangerous things occurring in international politics.

Franklin: Yes.

Harvey: And as well as the contamination aspects, too. Of cleaning up the legacy.

Franklin: Of course, which is still ongoing.

Harvey: Which is here at Hanford. But at other places, too. You realize you had workers in a lot of Manhattan Project, early Cold War facilities that all of the sudden they’re realizing—Department of Energy—wait a minute, these people were also, I guess you could say fighting in the Cold War. And now you know, they didn’t have any protections at the time, and are we going to care for these people? Yeah, yeah.

Franklin: Right I’d like to ask you something that might be controversial, and if you don’t want to answer—

Harvey: Okay.

Franklin: I’m fine with that. But, this is a question I don’t have—really feel like I can ask very often. There’s a lot of rhetoric, especially here, that—often-repeated rhetoric that dropping the bomb was necessary to ending World War II. However, most historians agree that dropping the bomb was not necessary to avoid the invasion of Japan; in fact, the Japanese had wanted surrender, were willing to agree to let the emperor abdicate as long as we wouldn’t kill the emperor, and that the bomb was dropped to intimidate the Soviets into more concessions in Eastern Europe. But Truman, over the course of his life, inflated the number of American lives that the bomb would save, and he didn’t even mention it saving lives until 18 months after the bomb was dropped. So with that in mind, do you agree or disagree with the statement that dropping the bomb—

Harvey: Well, I see both sides. I mean, you talk to people whose sons were onboard ships going to Japan, ready for the invasion. And so it might be hard to convince that family [LAUGHTER] that the bomb wasn’t a good thing. Also, supposedly—I can’t remember the number we had—50,000 soldiers that were prisoners of war. Supposedly they were all going to be—if we invaded the mainland, they were all going to be killed. And so you hear that, and you say, well, it was a good thing.

And also, but at the same time, you do a lot—especially Leslie Groves and others figured, oh, the expense was unbelievable expense at the time. And to justify, maybe we needed to drop this bomb, and quickly, before there was peace. And then I’ve heard about Truman, 18 months later, to kind of more justify. And there was a lot of cover-up on the after-effects of nuclear fallout, for want of a better term, in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, for the people that were exposed to it, and generations after that. There was kind of a lot of hush-hush. I mean, obviously, the word got out.

Franklin: Right, it’s kind of hard to hide that.

Harvey: Yeah, in fact, I went to the signing when we were back for the Scholars’ Forum back in DC, and Sally Jewell, who was the Secretary of the Interior at the time, I think her mom was one of the first nurses that went over there.

Franklin: Oh, wow.

Harvey: Yeah. So where I come around personally—I know General Eisenhower (who became President Eisenhower), he wanted to have a demonstration. Take contingent or—the government of Japan at the time, the military figure, take them out on a boat and show that okay, we’re going to drop—do the dropping of the bomb.

Franklin: Kind of like a peaceful demonstration—

Harvey: Right. Of course, at the time, we didn’t know what was going to happen after you drop it. It could have been a chain reaction, you know, you read a lot of—so, believe me, I’m not ducking the issue. I really—I can see both sides. A lot of historians feel it was necessary. But then you read the side that it was kind of to show the Soviets we meant business. And also to justify all the expense during the war.

Franklin: Sure, it would’ve—could’ve been seen as this major boondoggle, had all this money been spent on something that had never been—

Harvey: Well, right.

Franklin: --never been used.

Harvey: But I’ve heard Truman didn’t lose much sleep over his decision.

Franklin: Sure, sure.

Harvey: In fact, I think even Oppenheimer went and met with him, and I guess he—you know, it’s too bad what happened to Oppenheimer, his loss of his security clearance. Which eventually I think he got back later. But it was that whole kind of Red Scare during the ‘50s.

Franklin: Yeah. Well, thanks, Dave. I guess what I’m hearing from you is that it’s complicated.

Harvey: Yeah.

Franklin: Which I think like any good historical issue worth discussing, we often have to leave it with, well, it’s complicated.

Harvey: Well, I’d like to actually—

Franklin: There’s no easy line.

Harvey: --to do more research on it, personally. That’s why this profession’s great. I tell my wife I learn something new everyday, not necessarily just in my profession, either, but even so. You can say that about many professions, but being in the history and architectural history field, just pick up something new to read everyday or research angle. Even stuff that I’m doing now, I’m learning more about the history of the area.

Franklin: Well, you know, Dave, thank you for all of your efforts in preserving the history of Hanford.

Harvey: Well, thank you.

Franklin: And I think we’re all excited to see—the national park coming in really is a game-changer in a lot of aspects, bringing in a lot of legitimacy. And we’re all very excited to see where that goes and hopefully the park boundaries will increase and it’ll really get kind of—you know, the park service will have that space to tell that kind of complicated story—

Harvey: Well, you know, it’s the heritage tourism. It’s a boon. That’s why there’s so much support—bipartisan support throughout the state, not just here. But I think—and there’s that Atomic Trail, where people go visit these sites now. It’s—

Franklin: We found something that democrats and republicans can agree on. [LAUGHTER]

Harvey: Yes, one of the few things.

Franklin: Well thank you so much, Dave.

Harvey: Thanks, Robert.

Franklin: Yeah, my pleasure.

View interview on Youtube.

Hanford Sites

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
B Reactor
200 Area
100 Area
300 Area
314 Building
313 Building
T Plant
D Reactor
F Reactor
N Reactor
FFTF (Fast Flux Test Facility)
PFP (Plutonium Finishing Plant)

Years in Tri-Cities Area


Years on Hanford Site



Harvey, Dave.JPG


“Interview with Dave Harvey,” Hanford History Project, accessed October 28, 2021,