Lustron Houses (page 1)

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Lustron Houses are not so much noteworthy for their building type as for their building materials: porcelain-enameled steel. Panels made from this material are durable and require little maintenance. They were commonly used for exteriors of fast food restaurants and gas stations.

Lustron homes carried the material a step further - using two-foot square porcelain enamel tiles on the interior as well. There were 2,498 of these all-steel houses made between 1949 and 1950. They were built in the Northeast, Southeast and Midwest. There were actually orders for 20,000 homes but Lustron went bankrupt in the early 1950s. The concept was the invention of Carl Strandlund in response to the post-World War II housing shortage and surplus steel supply.

The homes arrived by flatbed truck in 3,000 piece "kits". They were assembled for around $7,000-$10,000. These steel tiles kept the houses cool in summer and made them fireproof and termite/rodent-proof as well. These houses came in either a two-bedroom or three-bedroom floorplan. About 90% were of the two-bedroom type. Buyers had their choice of eight pastel colors (pink, surf blue, dove grey, desert tan, maize yellow, blue-green, green and white). Buyers could choose different interior colors for each room. The pocket doors, built-in kitchen cabinets, bedroom vanities, dining room buffet, and bookcases were all made of steel. Lustron owners commonly use magnets to hang things on the walls. Others simply push up the ceiling panels next to the walls and use S-hooks and wire to support artwork. Interior alteration is difficult since the houses were built to be indestructible. Lustrons are heated by radiant-heat ceiling panels.

For more about Lustrons, see these websites: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6.

William Wittmer Lustron House
Alpine, NJ
Harold Hess Lustron House
Closter, NJ
There were around 16 Lustrons sold in New Jersey and about a dozen of them remain. These two Lustrons were assembled in 1950 and are just a few miles apart. Both have two bedrooms and one bath. The Alpine Lustron was originally owned by William Wittmer. The Alpine house is also known as the Marjorie Hiorth House (Wittmer's widow). [map]

The Closter Lustron was built in 1950. It features a "breezeway", a mostly glass, enclosed connecting structure between the house and garage. Harold Hess originally tried to have this house built in Fort Lee, NJ but he could not get past zoning restrictions there. In 2015, the Township of Closter was gifted the house and began restoring it. The house has been rented to a local business owner who is serving as caretaker. [map]

Lustron House
Woodbury, NJ
This Woodbury Lustron is in great shape. The window awnings must have been an original option. The garage appears to now be cinderblock with a Lustron top. [map]

Lustron House
Clinton, NJ
The Clinton Lustron is in great shape and stands on a fairly large piece of property in an upscale neighborhood. [map]

Lustron House [gone]
Sea Bright, NJ
Lustron House
Hyannis, MA
This Lustron was originally used as a demonstration model. When this photo was taken in 2004, it appeared to be unoccupied and between commercial uses. By 2012, it had been replaced with new development.

There are about two dozen Lustrons in Massachusetts. The Hyannis Lustron appears to be in great shape. The original roof tiles are now gone. [map]

Lustron House
Groveland, MA
Lustron House
Williamstown, MA
The Groveland Lustron was built in 1950. [map]

This Williamstown was also built in 1950. It has been altered to enclose the porch. The garage is also clearly a Lustron. [map]

Lustron House
Henderson, KY
There are about 30 Lustrons in Kentucky This Henderson Lustron, aka the Stewart House, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. [map]

Lustron Houses
Norfolk, VA
There are about 70 Lustrons in Virginia. These Norfolk Lustrons are covered up a bit but their origins are still obvious. [left map]; [right map]

Lustron House
Bristol, VA
This Lustron was built in 1949. This photo is from 2011. The house now has a modern, metal roof. [map]

Lustron House [gone]
Arlington, VA
This Arlington Lustron was built in 1949. These photos are from 2010. The house was demolished in 2016.

Lustron House [gone]
Arlington, VA
Lustron House
Arlington, VA
The Arlington Lustron on the left was fairly well preserved. It was still there in 2014 but gone by 2017.

The other Lustron house in Arlington on the right is now covered with wood. [map]

Lustron House
Arlington, VA
This Arlington Lustron is hidden behind stucco. The original roof tiles remain. [map]

There were 11 Lustrons in Arlington but now only five remain. Not too far away, at the Marine base in Quantico, VA, there were about 60 Lustrons which were offered free for the taking. Most of them wound up being destroyed. For more, see these websites: 1 and 2.

Lustron House
Philadelphia, PA
Lustron House
College Park, MD
There are about 89 Lustrons in Pennsylvania. This grey-colored Philadelphia Lustron has been covered up with white, traditional vinyl siding. However, the steel roof shingles and gable tiles are still intact and the trademark pylon corner at the front door (despite missing the coil-like center piece) still identifies the house's origins. This is apparently the only Lustron house left in Philadelphia. There was another nearby but it was demolished and replaced with a school. [map]

There are about nine Lustrons in Maryland. This College Park Lustron is a little rough around the edges but at least it's still intact. [map]

Lustrons (page 2) Lustrons (page 3) Mid-Century Modern Buildings
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