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Evolving in the Postwar World
There were major readjustments of the national and local economies after World War II. Because of the pent-up demand for housing, a building boom developed in the Twin Cities area. The first-ring suburbs such as Richfield, Hopkins, St. Louis Park, South St. Paul, Roseville, and West St. Paul, were filling in quickly with single-family homes that were being built to accommodate returning veterans and their families. Consequently developers began seeking land further out in what were to become the second-tier of communities such as Maplewood, Inver Grove Heights, and Bloomington.
There were also personnel changes at Villaume. In 1946, company president Frank Villaume died. Julius, who was then the board chairman, succeeded Frank. Julius would be the last member of the second generation of Villaume family members to head the organization. Two other 1946 events illustrate some of the post war problems the company faced. The first was a huge fire in one of the buildings in the Villaume yard. Hundreds of people lined Kellogg Boulevard to watch flames destroy thousands of dollars worth of lumber. There also was a Twin Cities-wide strike of millwrights that lasted for several weeks and partially shut down local home construction. Three years later a more costly labor disturbance roiled production at the Villaume plant. The minutes of June 12, 1949, "reported on negotiations with representatives of the millwork operators union, and indicated that it appears as though the present strike would continue." The strike was finally settled, but then, in late August, "the plant was shut down by virtue of the truck strike ... and the factory workers refusal to go through the picket lines established ... in front of the offices and plant property.