• The story of Lustron house #549 — including 38-page booklet chronicling its disassembly

    Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Historic American Buildings Survey or Historic American Engineering Record, Reproduction Number HABS VA-1414-12

    Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Historic American Buildings Survey or Historic American Engineering Record, Reproduction Number HABS VA-1414-12. James W. Rosenthal, photographer, 2006.

    lustron-house exhibit I’m super into the Lustron story we started yesterday. Recap: Lustron #549 from Arlington, Virginia, disassembled and sent to Columbus, Ohio, where it is being reassembled inside the Ohio Historical Society and will go on exhibit on July 13. Today: A 38 page booklet on the house prepared by Arlington, Virginia — well done! And, professional photos documenting Lustron #549 taken by the U.S. Historical American Buildings Survey (HABS). The way I read the HABS fine print, I am AOK to post these photos ‘cuz we paid for them with our tax dollars.  What a lovely record of this now-famous little house in its natural habitat. Above: The bathroom of #549 was in excellent condition. Just a few things (faucet, shower head) were changed. Continue for the 38-page brochure and more HABS photos –>

    The Illustrious Lustron: Guide for the Disassembly and Preservation of America’s Modern Metal Marvel

    lustron book

    Ae 38-page booklet prepared by Arlington County, Virginia chronicling the history of this house and its disassembly. Wonderfully done!

    Here’s the PDF: FINAL Lustron documentation booklet (1)

    Great booklet — terrific documentation — well done, authors Cynthia Liccese-Torres and Kim A. O’Connell!

    More HABS photos of Lustron #549 in its original location in Arlington, Virginia

    Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Historic American Buildings Survey or Historic American Engineering Record, Reproduction Number HABS VA-1414-3

    Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Historic American Buildings Survey or Historic American Engineering Record, Reproduction Number HABS VA-1414-3, James W. Rosenthal, photographer, 2006.

    Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Historic American Buildings Survey or Historic American Engineering Record, Reproduction Number HABS VA-1414-9

    Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Historic American Buildings Survey or Historic American Engineering Record, Reproduction Number HABS VA-1414-9, James W. Rosenthal, photographer, 2006.

    Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Historic American Buildings Survey or Historic American Engineering Record, Reproduction Number HABS VA-1414-6

    Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Historic American Buildings Survey or Historic American Engineering Record, Reproduction Number HABS VA-1414-6, James W. Rosenthal, photographer, 2006.

    Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Historic American Buildings Survey or Historic American Engineering Record, Reproduction Number HABS VA-1414-7

    Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Historic American Buildings Survey or Historic American Engineering Record, Reproduction Number HABS VA-1414-7, James W. Rosenthal, photographer, 2006.

    Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Historic American Buildings Survey or Historic American Engineering Record, Reproduction Number HABS VA-1414-14

    Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Historic American Buildings Survey or Historic American Engineering Record, Reproduction Number HABS VA-1414-14, James W. Rosenthal, photographer, 2006.

    Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Historic American Buildings Survey or Historic American Engineering Record, Reproduction Number HABS VA-1414-8

    Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Historic American Buildings Survey or Historic American Engineering Record, Reproduction Number HABS VA-1414-8, James W. Rosenthal, photographer, 2006.

    Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Historic American Buildings Survey or Historic American Engineering Record, Reproduction Number HABS VA-1414-5

    Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Historic American Buildings Survey or Historic American Engineering Record, Reproduction Number HABS VA-1414-, James W. Rosenthal, photographer, 2006.

    Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Historic American Buildings Survey or Historic American Engineering Record, Reproduction Number HABS VA-1414-10

    Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Historic American Buildings Survey or Historic American Engineering Record, Reproduction Number HABS VA-1414-10, James W. Rosenthal, photographer, 2006.

    Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Historic American Buildings Survey or Historic American Engineering Record, Reproduction Number HABS VA-1414-1

    Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Historic American Buildings Survey or Historic American Engineering Record, Reproduction Number HABS VA-1414-1, James W. Rosenthal, photographer, 2006.

    Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Historic American Buildings Survey or Historic American Engineering Record, Reproduction Number HABS VA-1414-4

    Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Historic American Buildings Survey or Historic American Engineering Record, Reproduction Number HABS VA-1414-4, James W. Rosenthal, photographer, 2006.

    lustron house

    Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Historic American Buildings Survey or Historic American Engineering Record, Reproduction Number HABS VA-1414-13, James Rosenthal, photographer, 2006

    Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Historic American Buildings Survey or Historic American Engineering Record, Reproduction Number HABS VA-1414-11

    Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Historic American Buildings Survey or Historic American Engineering Record, Reproduction Number HABS VA-1414-11, James W. Rosenthal, photographer, 2006.

    Readers, what do you think?
    Could you see yourself living in a Lustron?

    lustron-house exhibit

    Don’t forget to check out the Ohio Historical Society’s Lustron exhibit, 1950s: Building the American Dream, where you can tour Lustron House #549.

    Want to see the HABS photos even larger: Tips to view slide show: Click on first image… it will enlarge and you can also read my captions… move forward or back via arrows below the photo… you can start or stop at any image:

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    Comments

    1. I know for a fact that one of these houses exists in Hays, KS. Used to live in that little town and I admired the assortment of midcentury homes. Thanks for this new series. Very interesting and fun to look at the inside of all these beautiful homes.

      • There are seven Lustron homes in Hays, Kansas, and most are in good, fairly original, condition. These homes were well received when they were built, but local building codes had to be changed to reflect the use of modern materials, such as copper plumbing.

    2. Jim Buxton says:

      Great story, Pam, well presented once again, as you always do. Thanks for sharing this. I am very much looking forward to seeing this house live, and I don’t have to travel far at all to see it! Columbus is my home, and I live only about two miles from the exhibit.

      I have gotten to see in the wild a few of the local Lustron houses (which are in sad shape, I’m sorry to say), but never on their insides. To experience a Lustron interior is another reason why I’m really looking forward to the exhibit!

      On a mid-century side note, your article reminded me of Cameron Wood, with whom I was corresponding in June 2012. My father passed in 2011, but in the 1950s in the basement of my family’s 1955 mid-century-modest house, my dad designed, built and sold computers, one of which he left me, my brother and my sister. It’s huge and heavy. Mr Wood and I were in contact about my donating it to the Society for possible inclusion in an exhibit about mid-century Ohio inventors. Then, Columbus was hit by a freak wind storm which knocked out power here for several days. My computer was also damaged and my correspondence with Mr Wood lost. With Mr Wood’s name, I plan to recontact the Society to see if they are still interested in my father’s computer.

      I’d be happy to share photos, impressions or what have you when I see the Lustron exhibit, if you’re interested.

      Thanks again for all your great work!

    3. Could definitely live in the three bedroom model. The apartment we (the boy + the cat) live in now is just over 700 sq ft, so a 1000 sq ft house seems completely doable.

      We live in Chicagoland so when the time comes to buy there should be a Lustron on the market so we can at least take a look (hello, Lombard!).

    4. Janet in CT says:

      I don’t recognize these Lustron houses so there must not be alot of them in Connecticut. Does anyone know what the composition is of those square panels? It looks like they economically used the same thing for the exterior, the kitchen walls, and in the bathroom, but maybe the inside ones are different. I just cannot figure out what it is. Very interesting article.

    5. Well, my coffee break went much longer then usual because I had to read the attached PDF. Great reading! I always wondered what the skeleton of the house looked like. It seems the only true flaw of the Lustron was the method of heat and lack of insulation but then most homes built after the war had little or no insulation and single pane glass.

      I wonder how many will be left standing as homes in another 50 years. Glad to see that several are destined for historical installations.

      Great picture of the Christmas tree in front of the window with steel venetian blinds and bark cloth drapes.

    6. Robin, NV says:

      I read through most of the PDF. It’s not suprising that the Krowne House suffered from rust. I wonder if wider eaves would have helped with that. It’s interesting that the homes never really made it out west. I would think our dry climate would have been better for them. Although I’m trying to imagine an all metal house in 100+ temperatures.

      I think 1000 sq. ft. is perfectly adequate for most families. The Lustrons were smartly built with built in bookshelves and storage so you wouldn’t need to take up any floor space by those things. My husband and I lived in a 850 sq. ft 2 bedroom, 1 bath apartment and never felt cramped. It’s all in the layout – and accepting that we don’t “need” a lot of the stuff we fill our houses with. I would, however, have a problem with the fact that the Lustrons never changed. You could never paint the house to suit your taste. I wonder if anyone ever tried to add wallpaper to the interior?

    7. I would happily live in one of these! Fire-proof or at least majorly fire-retardant! The radiant heating is an idea of its time, way ahead of our time…. We have gone backwards as prosperity has allowed us to indulge in wasteful ways. Maybe moving the heater from the sealing to the floor, as heat rises, and add evaporative cooling or geo-thermal cooling possibly combined with Peltier technology dehumidifier for air-conditioning (instead of those monster and powerhog central air units) to maximize comfort. Add hardwood or terrazzo flooring for aesthetic and physical warmth, artwork hung with rear earth magnets (no holes on the walls) and SOME furniture, and voilà, a nice home for a lifetime!

    8. Oh, I can’t WAIT to see this!

    9. I love these houses. I’d definitely live in one – it’s just me and my two cats. The carpeting would be replaced with some poured cement in a great color. Would likely paint the house a new color, but only if it kept that lustron shimmer.

      Lustron Houses – the original “tiny house!”

      • you can paint the exterior but it won’t last. the finish of the panels is like that of a ceramic stove. we saw a painted one next to two that were not painted this past weekend and it looked like crapola ;)

    10. There are at least two of these in Hammond, Indiana, my hometown. One was blue and the other was pink. My dad said that he actually got to see the parts coming in on a big truck!

    11. Kathryn says:

      I used to live in Broadripple, an area of Indianapolis. There are two Lustrons there. This one was a block from us and I always admired how the owners were true to its era. Look up on google maps 1897 Kessler E Blvd. Indianapolis zoom in for the street view and see the cute little yellow Lustron!
      Kat

    12. There are quite a few Lustrons still standing in Lombard, Illinois. I live in neighboring Glen Ellyn and there was at least one in Glen Ellyn- I went to an estate sale there 5 or so years ago before it was torn down. I recall that the pictures in the home were attached to the walls with magnets (the interior walls, as well as the exterior walls were made of metal).

    13. Joe Felice says:

      Pam, what is that last pic on your slide show? The device says “Gasomatic.” It looks like some sort of gas valve with a fan, and that it is connected (hardwired) to some sort of electrical box to the right. I suspect it has something to do with the central-heating system, but where is the rest of the “furnace.”

    14. There are a dozen or two of these in Minneapolis. We just saw them on a midcentury mod tour yesterday!

    15. There are several of these homes in the Champaign-Urbana, Rantoul area of East Central Illinois. I don’t live there anymore, but was intrigued by the strange metal houses when I lived there. Always wondered about them! Thanks! Maybe someone could post some pics?!

    16. a site all on lustron preservation:

      http://www.lustronpreservation.org/

      has a “lustron locator” map.

    17. That website is fabulous! Thanks!!

    18. Pam, Kate!
      I was looking around for Lustrons that might be near me. I came across a couple in Canton, Ohio. Please look at the photo (on the National Trust Lustron locator) of the Lustron at 4135 Lincoln Street E, Canton, Ohio 44730. Is that a Lustron motel??? It looks like a really long house with loads of doors – like the old strip motels! I am really going to have to go see that one!

    19. Melaney Jordan says:

      I live in Grove City, Ohio (a suburb of Columbus) and there is a lustron home a few blocks away. I would love to see the inside, but I guess I’ll just go to the exhibit to see the one shipped in.

    20. This house was down the street from me. Gone before I moved here. I see the lot every day and I always wondered what it looked like inside. Now I know! There is another Lustron right next door to this lot. Thanks for posting these photos!

    21. There are 3 of them (that I know of) within blocks of each other in Wheeling, WV. My husband and I first came across one when it was for sale about a decade ago. I was able to go inside and check it out as we were considering buying it. This particular one has a basement. Don’t know if it came with a basement or if the basement was put in later. But I know that I would not be able to live in one without a basement. They are very small inside. I live in an 1100 sq ft home now and it feels way roomier than the lustron. Fascinating history lesson and really neat looking inside. Great idea and well done. But no, not for me.

    22. My boyfriend Tony and I were lucky enough to come across the Ohio History Center in Columbus, OH in August 2013 where they had a fully constructed Lustron home for folks to tour. It was amazing! It felt like we were stepping back in time. In fact, they had a lady out in the front yard dressed in the eras style greeting folks as they came up onto the porch of the home. Luckily, the museum also kept all the furniture from that time period in tact as well. I’ve been a huge lover of anything and everything from the 1950′s-1970′s and it’s great to see that so many other people are keeping these decades alive!

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