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Hsinchu MAAG

The MAAG Housing Compound


The MAAG Housing Compound was located in the yellow block marked “MAAG.” The compound fits within a 650 foot square, making it a bit larger than a typical US city block.  Construction on the compound was completed in 1956 and was quite near full occupancy when the Rayle family moved-in from their temporary housing in Tien-mu, just north of Taipei, during the summer of 1957.  In the late 1950’s, most of the residents in the compound were US Army, the others were US Air Force families.


This photograph (ca. 1972-1999) shows that the compound had mainly duplex houses, a swimming pool (upper left), a tennis court (right of pool) and a white colored water tower (right of tennis court.)  The maximum occupancy of the compound was 32 families or so.  A fire destroyed a duplex near the center of the compound some time between 1962-65 ( notice open grass area in the center of the picture.) Another residence burned in 2005, a number of years after this photograph was taken.

A photograph of the original gate, (ca. March 1959) The guard shack was occasionally manned by an employee of the Bank of Taiwan (BOT.)   BOT owned the compound and perhaps we’re seeing bank employees in this photograph. 

The compound was surrounded by a 6 foot cinder block wall with a plain top, that is, it did not have upright shards of glass. The gate was rarely if ever closed in the late 1950’s. The compound is only 3 years old here, so there is not much in the way of trees and bushes yet.  The compound streets were packed gravel, but outside the gate they were gravel and mud with an  occasional green pile left behind by oxen pulling carts.  The compound roads were bordered by a capacious 16’ x 16’ concrete and stone binjo ditch with sloping sides designated for disposal of household grey water.  This ditch was a constant hazard for bicycling military brats.

Storm flooding near the gate (ca. April 1959.)  The photographer was standing inside the entrance gate taking this picture.

The duplex houses were American Ranch style built of stucco-covered brick with tile roofs, fireplaces with chimney and individual carports.  In the late 1950’s house exteriors were painted light green, gray and yellow ochre (the house just to the upper left with the white car, is an example of the color, yellow ochre. At the far end of this street is the compound wall and   just to the left of this street,  at the end was the Rayle residence, quarters # 3. The Rayle home is circled in blue 2 photographs above.

Same flood, but our photographer has turned around is now looking out the gate.  Standing in the windy weather is Dorothy Rayle, her daughter Diana and Major William Sands who is stepping through the water.  I wonder if that’s Bruce Rayle in the distance relaxing in ankle deep water trying his father’s patience with excuses why he should not return to the house. Boys will always be boys…

Outside the gate, in the immediate vicinity were located twelve Chinese Army villages.  These villages housed Chinese military and their families who were refugees from the Chinese mainland in 1949.  Four of the villages, which contained 742 families,  were just adjacent to the MAAG Housing compound.   I wonder if we are seeing one of those villages as we look outside the gate at the red colored brick buildings?


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