1950s downtown Majuro look

The MIECO Building in downtown Majuro in the late 1950s. Photo: Clarence E. Takeuchi.


Majuro Atoll in the late 1950s defined a quiet, slightly shabby backwater Pacific port town. There were still many reminders of the war, which had ended only about 15 years earlier.

Among the obvious reminders were Quonset huts, pre-fabricated half-moon structures whose skin was corrugated metal, which were commonplace. Two of the most prominent US Navy leftovers in use were the Majuro Hospital, located approximately where the former tennis courts used to be, and the District Administration building, where the District Administrator (or “Distad,” as they were better known) governed the Marshall Islands. The Distad’s office was just to the right of the entrance of the main dock at Uliga.

But there was also a hodgepodge of other buildings, a mix of architectural “styles” that at best could be called utilitarian. One thing you may notice in some of these photos is the use of long screened windows. Few buildings were air conditioned, and break-ins were unusual. Breeze-cooled, often aided by ceiling fans, was how offices and some homes were kept comfortable.

The one notable exception to the utilitarian architectural style was the MIECO Building. It was a stunning two-story multi-use structure along the main road that hugged the lagoon. It looked like the love child of Sadie Thompson in the South Seas and a southern plantation manor house. For many people, the MIECO Building was a symbol of Majuro during a time when the atoll’s population was at most a shade over 2,000 people.

Read more about this in the August 2, 2019 edition of the Marshall Islands Journal.