Mayor announces support for preserving house built by American pacifist

by Hiroki Takigawa, Staff Writer

On August 3, the City of Hiroshima announced that it will decide promptly how to preserve the “Schmoe House” in downtown Hiroshima, which was built for atomic bomb survivors (hibakusha) by the late Floyd Schmoe (1895-2001), an American Quaker. As the house sits at the site of planned construction for the new Hiroshima South Road, Hiroshima Mayor Tadatoshi Akiba held a news conference to address the matter.

The one-story wooden house, with a floor space of 54.5 square meters, was built in 1951 on nationally-owned land in Eba-Nihonmatsu. The only house that still exists among about 20 structures that Mr. Schmoe built for hibakusha in the city of Hiroshima, it is used by local residents as a meeting place. The house bears the sign “Schmoe House.”

Mr. Akiba stressed the significance of preserving the house, saying the structure “conveys the history of Hiroshima and the achievements of Mr. Schmoe, an honorary citizen of Hiroshima.” He added, “We want to make a swift decision” on relocating the house and how it will be used at the new location, including cost considerations. The focus now will be on whether the house is only partially preserved or preserved in its entirety.

The Eba District is situated at the planned construction site for the Hiroshima South Road, expected to open in 2013. About 70 percent of the construction site has already been purchased, making the house stand out among the vacant lots. The local neighborhood association and the house’s administrative committee submitted a request to the city in July 2007 asking that the house be preserved as a memorial and that a new meeting place be built.

The City of Hiroshima decided last year to build a new meeting place, but has not presented a clear policy on how to preserve the house.

(Originally published on August 4, 2009)