You won’t need Doc’s solid steel, plutonium-powered DeLorean to travel through decades of history in one southern Virginia town. All it takes is one tiny step into Ted’s Retro Ghost Town Quonset Hut, and you’ll feel as though you’ve been teleported back to the 1950s.
For over 30 years, Ted has been an avid collector of various kinds of antiques. He’s amassed quite an eclectic collection including rustic gas pumps, old parking meters, vintage mannequins, wood rail pinball machines, antique stoves, rusty classic cars, and several Predicta televisio sets.
Although Ted enjoys collecting, he had a much bigger plan in mind. He calls it “hoarding with a purpose.” He dreamed of building a retro, 1950s ghost town where visitors could step onto his property and into another time.
“Most folks don’t quite understand why anyone would want to do this,” says Ted. “They think it’s neat, but they think it’s just crazy. Then after they tell me they think it’s crazy, they say, ‘But I want to come see it,’” joked Ted.
He says his idea is not to create a polished display with shiny restored vehicles and cutouts of notable 1950s music icons. He wants his town to be a little darker in nature. His aim is a little less Happy Days and a little more Mike Ferris in Twilight Zone, but no one will need to be carried out on a stretcher after this experience. Ted wants his Retro Ghost Town Quonset Hut to be authentic, dusty with lots of patina, and he wants visitors to feel like they have stepped into an abandoned 1950s town.
(Photo Courtesy Veronica Hamburger)
Ted is now in the first phase of making his Retro Ghost Town Quonset Hut dream come true. He has just finished putting up the Quonset Hut itself. He purchased an XQ 60’w x 21’h x 166’l a few years ago and just finished erecting all of the arches in late 2016.
When he first started, a few neighbors and a specialist stepped in to help. Now he is alone for the rest of this journey. If anyone says they don’t have the time to put up a steel building, Ted crushes every excuse available. He is currently working full-time and traveling between Maryland and Southern Virginia, but he finds the time to continue to build his dream Retro Ghost Town Quonset Hut.
“I am the team. When you have a crazy, over-ambitious project like this, nobody wants to be your friend,” joked Ted. “I just do some work on the weekends or I take a day off here and there.”
Now that the arches are up, he is working on a few small finishing touches and he will then move on to construct an interior steel rib cage to frame the storefronts and to hang heavy store signs. He says he will frame and build a Fodero-style diner and a 50s-style AMOCO gas station which will be across from it.
Out on the street before visitors even get to the retro ghost town Quonset Hut, they will be treated to an abandoned car movie scene outside. There they will find Ted’s 1955 Cadillac Sedan, a 1959 Fleetwood, a 1953 Dodge Custom Lancer, and a 1953 Kaiser Manhattan just to name a few all strategically lined along the street. Ted is still looking for several more cars to add to the street scene.
It will take him several years to build the stores and displays inside of the building, and Ted says he has two goals to turn this ghost town into his side business after he retires.
He will be blogging about the entire building process, and he is planning to rent out the space for events, photography, weddings, and themed retreats.
Ted knew from day one that he was going to build his dream town inside of a Quonset Hut.
“I’ve been fascinated with Quonset Huts since I was a kid. I wanted something that was industrial and organic,’ says Ted. “That shape just fit the bill. It’s practical and has uninterrupted floor space for the money that you spend. You get the most out of a Quonset Hut.”
He also knew that he would certainly purchase a SteelMaster after talking to a few of his other friends who already owned Quonset Huts as well.
“I have a lot of friends in rural communities, and I know that was sort of the go-to structure and company,” says Ted.
He says during his experience, he had the opportunity to work with longtime SteelMaster building specialist Rich Merrill.
“He really made a difference in this whole project. That guy is top-notch customer service,” says Ted.
SteelMaster will be following along as Ted builds his dream Quonset Hut home.