On March 19 2009, visitors to the American Museum of Science and Energy had a rare opportunity to do something many have never done before – step inside a 1940′s flattop house. A flattop was made available to AMSE through a generous donation by Isabelle Fitzpatrick Smith and her husband, Dr. Kenneth W. Smith, of Middlesboro, KY.
The Smiths were inspired to donate the house after visiting AMSE and seeing the exhibit on original Oak Ridge housing in the “Oak Ridge: World War II Secret City” exhibit. The house was originally purchased by Thaddeus Fitzpatrick, Isabelle’s father, at auction in 1948 and moved to Tazewell, TN. There it was primarily used as a summer house by two generations of the Fitzpatrick family. The flooring, cabinetry, light fixtures, and plumbing are all orginal and the house is in great shape.
The B-1 two-bedroom flattop design is only 576 square feet. Its original flat roof consisted of tar spread over canvas. The house is approximately 24′ X 24′ with a 3′ storage closet off the front entryway. The house can be separated into three pieces 8′ wide by 24′ long and was separated to move it both to Tazewell in ’48 and back to Oak Ridge last month.
Once the house was moved to Tazewell, the Fitzpatrick family added a pitched roof, a fireplace, and screened porch. The porch and fireplace have been removed in the photo at right. The pitched roof has since been removed.
On Oct. 16, 2008 the flattop arrived on AMSE property in three pieces and was put back together over the days that followed. The flattop will be restored and preserved in honor of Isabelle Fitzpatrick Smith’s parents and her sisiter, Frances Fitzpatrick. Frances worked at Y-12 and K-25 as an engineer, drafts person and technical editor until retiring in 1982.
Moving and restoring the house was a costly undertaking for the museum, costing an estimated $50,000 to prepare the house for visitors to be able to see it. The Smiths themselves have contributed $13,000 in addition to the gift of the house but AMSE and the AMSE Foundation are asking for your assistance in the effort to maintain and preserve the flattop for future generations to enjoy.
How you can help…
- Buy a board on the boardwalk – For $250, you can purchase a board on the boardwalk that will lead up to the entrance of the house. Each board will contain a 4″X6″ bronze plaque containing up to 48 characters for the donor’s name or message. –>Download Buy a Board on the Boardwalk Order Form
- Donate or loan artifacts to furnish the interior of the house. We are looking for furniture, decorative accessories, kitchen items, clothing or any items that would have originally been in a flattop house.
- For more information or other donation options please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call Jim Comish at 865.574.8453
Supporters to date: