Lustron House
September 8, 2005 9:54 PM   Subscribe

Lustron House "We were revolutionizing a whole industry," said Richard Jones, former Lustron vice president of sales. "We were saying with our house: 'You put down a hammer and a saw and pick up a wrench.'" Though radical in its use of porcelain enameled steel, the Lustron house — a one-story, gabled-roof ranch with a bay window and side porch — looked much like other postwar-era dwellings. Behind its traditional façade, however, lay the hopes and expectations for a new era in American housing.
posted by goalyeehah (14 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Thank you goalyeehah, interesting story. No nails or picture hooks, just use magnets!
posted by tellurian at 10:46 PM on September 8, 2005

It's cool. I wish there were more pictures. Groovy add on link, Tellurian. Having had porcelian enameled steel things before, I'm astounded at how well they seem to have held up. Considering that they were manufactured in my grandparent's era, they seem to be holding up pretty well. Much like the very few poured concrete houses from about that era.
posted by dejah420 at 11:45 PM on September 8, 2005

They certainly are lasting. I fear some of our more contemporary building techniques will not fare time quite
so well.
posted by TwelveTwo at 1:15 AM on September 9, 2005

Finally! A house pre-lined with tinfoil!

Tellurain, the use of magnets was one of the first things I thought of. You'd have to be careful, though. A strong magnet could chip enamel.

I wonder how cold they would get in cold winter? How hot in summer? What about temperature related expansions and contractions?

And can you simply hose them out? Hosing out a house is a major plus.
posted by loquacious at 2:53 AM on September 9, 2005

I started a project this summer taking pictures of several that are in the Milwaukee area. They are really interesting to see and most are still in very good shape considering they have not been changed since installation. I'll try to get some up on my Flickr Page soon.
posted by JJ86 at 3:30 AM on September 9, 2005

I've been in a Lustron house. My friends' family owned one in a suburb of Chicago. The most I remember about it was the interior walls were, well, kind of shiny. It didn't age terribly well, since you couldn't update the thing by just slapping new siding on it. It was removed within the last 10 years to accommodate a new cul-de-sac subdivision, complete with McMansions.

I don't recall hearing many issues about heating it. I seem to remember being told the walls were well insulated. It was also had some mature trees on the lot, so it didn't get awfully hot in the summer.
posted by SteveInMaine at 3:37 AM on September 9, 2005

I love these. One was for sale near me recently - oh how I longed to buy it. Here is a site with a few more photos of Lustron homes and other Lustron information.
posted by missmerrymack at 5:26 AM on September 9, 2005

A friend of mine has lived in one her whole life -- still does. When we were kids, for fun we would throw magnets at the ceiling to see them stick. Her house is one of 2 on the same block.
posted by macadamiaranch at 5:30 AM on September 9, 2005

There's one of these in my town. At least, the exterior is still there. Can't vouch for the interior, though.
Sadly, the place is not exactly in the best of shape.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:49 AM on September 9, 2005

They have some of these in Bloomington, IN, where I went to college. I always wanted to go inside.
posted by SisterHavana at 8:30 AM on September 9, 2005

Mine wasn't a Lustron, but, wow, it was very similar. There's a whole neighborhood of post WWII pre-fab houses in Annandale, Virginia. They look very much like the Lustrons, but they all had wood panelling inside. Low ceilings and doorways, metal framing around the doors, and big picture windows. It's easy to see which houses had the optional living room bolted on, who opted for the extra bathroom, all that.

My landlord was the original owner, and he told me that the structure was delivered in sections that bolted together in 4 hours. The Google satellite map gives some idea of the uniformity of the neighborhood; I was in the house with the big yard at the corner of Maplewood and Oakwood.
posted by MrMoonPie at 8:52 AM on September 9, 2005

Fantastic post and great additional links, too. Thanks, all!
posted by scody at 1:12 PM on September 9, 2005

Out of the same problem came Buckminster Fuller's Dymaxion House (Warning; Flash). There is only one left, and they didn't actually quite make it to production.

I highly recommend that anyone who comes to Detroit go see it. It is amazingly cool, and I really want to put UFO lights on it for Halloween.
posted by QIbHom at 10:09 AM on September 10, 2005

This thread is probably dead now but I came upon this fabulous link and thought it deserved to be here.
posted by tellurian at 4:57 PM on September 14, 2005

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