Lustron homes are pre-fabricated steel homes built 1947-1950 in response to the shortage of homes available for GIs returning home from World War II. They had plans to build 15,000 houses in 1947 and 30,000 in 1948 but actually built only about 2,500 homes before declaring bankruptcy in 1950, with 8,000 orders on the books that were never shipped.
About 30 Lustron homes were built in Minnesota, and two Lustron homes just came on the market in Minneapolis next door to each other… a unique opportunity if you are interested in these historic homes.
In response to the shortage of homes available for GIs returning home from WWII, Chicago industrialist and inventor Carl Strandlund devised a plan to use the enamel-coated steel panels he had been using to construct gas stations to mass produce affordable, pre-fabricated steel homes that required minimal maintenance.
Their distinctive design included a steel framing system to which all interior and exterior enameled steel panels were attached. Even the interior ceilings and roof were enameled steel tiles, with the exterior roofing tiles installed shingle style. The siding was square tiles, with a signature zig-zag downspout trellis in the front and rear corners.
The homes were usually built on a concrete slab with no foundation, and were originally heated by blowing hot air into an enclosed space above the metal ceilings (that didn’t work so well!). They featured pocket doors, built-in storage and even an innovative combination kitchen sink, clothes and dishwasher. With everything steel, the whole home becomes a giant magnet board for hanging everything from notes to photos to artwork!
The Lustron Corporation was founded in 1947 with allegedly the first venture capital loan made by the federal government. They marketed it as “Never before in America a house like this.”
The Lustron factory in Ohio had approximately eight miles of automated conveyor lines including 11 enameling furnaces. There were approximately 3300 individual parts for a complete house delivered to the building site in one package, which was supposed to take about 360 man-hours to complete a house.
They had plans to build 15,000 houses in 1947 and 30,000 in 1948 but actually built only about 2,500 homes before declaring bankruptcy in 1950, with 8,000 orders on the books that were never shipped. About 30 Lustron homes were built in Minnesota.
Docomomo hosted a tour a few years ago of a rare Lustron house in south Minneapolis that was lovingly preserved. When I was there another visitor said she thought her grandfather helped construct these homes in Minneapolis. There are a few on the east side of Nicollet Avenue just south of 50th… and a few on the west side of Cedar, between Minnehaha Parkway and Lake Nokomis.
Learn more about Lustron Homes at the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
Sharlene Hensrud, RE/MAX Results – email@example.com