Pleasantview House Owners
History and Heritage of Pleasantview House
Pleasantview House History
Pleasantview House is a Gunnison Home. I remember from my childhood when my family moved to Paducah, Kentucky in the early 1950’s. There was a severe housing shortage because of the local construction boom, including a nuclear power plant and a TVA power plant where my Dad worked. We lived in a motel for about a week while the duplex house we were to live in was constructed. Those pre-fabricated homes were being erected and available for occupancy in about a week or ten days. They were Gunnison designed homes. I visited that area some fifty years later and they are still being lived in.
Randy Shipp, who has done a great deal of research on Gunnison Homes, had this, in part, to say about the Gunnison homes:
The first half of the twentieth century saw a change in the housing needs of the United States as more individuals sought easily built, affordable housing. These changing needs mandated that the construction industry re-evaluate what could be offered to the public. Various groups and individuals began to look at prefabrication as the answer to this need. Numerous proposals were developed that took advantage of such materials as wood, steel, aluminum and cast concrete.
In the early 1930s, Foster Gunnison, Sr’s, … a successful lighting designer and manufacturer from New York, …. interest in the concept of prefabricated housing led him to join with a group of likeminded individuals, … to study its feasibility. Having studied the subject from many angles, this group felt that the use of stressed plywood panels could offer a strong building at an economical price. This group … promote(d) the idea of prefabrication, but never produced units themselves. Instead, they were facilitators bringing the market and the manufacturers together.
By joining forces with experts in engineering, plywood production and architecture, he (Gunnison) arrived at the system of using stressed panels that took advantage of concepts used in the manufacture of airplane wings. The structural wood frame sheathed with plywood provided an extremely strong yet lightweight panel.
The (eventual) result was a complete housing unit that could be shipped on a single trailer truck and assembled on the customer’s foundation in a very short time. It was said that if the construction crew arrived at the site on Tuesday morning, the owner could have supper in his new house on Friday.
Pleasantview House is an important reminder of a highly significant piece of the history of single family housing construction in the mid-twentieth century. Maybe it was just ahead of its time.
Pleasantview House Heritage
Jacob D. DeShazer
Pleasantview House has quite a heritage. Most recently we learned that it was the home of Jacob DeShazer and his family during his enrollment at Asbury Theological Seminary 1955-1958. Jake DeShazer was WWII hero and famous missionary to Japan.
Jacob DeShazer, a farm boy from Oregon, joined the army Air Corps at age 27. He had always wanted to be a pilot, but when he did not qualify, an opportunity opened to become a bombardier. By luck of the draw, Jacob found himself as one of the 80 men participating in the famous Doolittle Raid over Japan shortly after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.
During the raid, Jacob and his fellow crewmen bailed out over China and were taken captive by the Japanese as prisoners of war for more than three years. In that Japanese POW camp, every day facing torture and death, Jacob’s path changed when his request for a Bible was fulfilled. Jacob came back to the Christian faith in which he was raised, and made a vow to God in his prison cell that if he survived he would return to Japan, not as a warrior but as a missionary.
The Jacob DeShazer story is not only about the bravery of a soldier during war, but also about how powerful love and forgiveness can be when given to the enemy.
As a missionary DeShazer, the one who formerly vowed “the Japs are going to have to pay for this” kept his new vow that he would share Christ love with the Japanese. As part of his missionary endeavors he wrote a small pamphlet, a Gospel tract, which told of Christ love and his testimony. It was titled: I Was a Prisoner of Japan.
In God’s grace and mercy a unique event was now set to occur. This former hater who had that hatred instilled in him by Mitsuo Fuchida’s bombing of Pearl Harbor would stand on a corner and hand out his tract and … and … Mitsuo Fuchida would come by and take one of those tracts from his hand!
Fuchida was moved as he read how the dynamic power of Christ had transformed DeShazer’s life and his attitude toward his former captors. The peace that DeShazer had discovered was exactly what Fuchida had been seeking. Since the American had found it in the Bible, Fuchida purchased one, despite his Shintoist heritage, to see for himself. It was the account of the crucifixion that grabbed Fuchida’s heart, particularly Jesus’ prayer at the time of His death, as recorded in Luke 23:34—”Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.”
Fuchida would later write:
I was impressed that I was certainly one of those for whom Jesus had prayed. The many men I had killed had been slaughtered in the name of patriotism, for I did not understand the love which Christ wishes to implant within every heart.