The Lustron Home

The History of a Postwar Prefabricated Housing Experiment


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About the Book

Advertised as “a new standard for living,” the Lustron Home was introduced in 1948 in response to the urgent need for housing for veterans returning from World War II and their rapidly growing families. These enameled steel, prefabricated houses became very popular, and were heavily promoted from 1948 to 1950. Approximately 2,500 went up all over the United States and even South America.
This work chronicles the history of the Lustron Corporation—how it got started and why it failed. The architectural differences between the six basic models of the Lustron Home, and how they could be built in as little as two days, are fully described. Also included is a listing that documents the location, model, color and various other particulars of the roughly 2,500 houses completed.

About the Author(s)

Writer and researcher Thomas T. Fetters lives in Lombard, Illinois.

Contributing author Vincent Kohler is a visiting professor of American Studies at the Universidad Veracruzana in Xalapa, Mexico.

Bibliographic Details

Thomas T. Fetters

and Vincent Kohler, contributing author

Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 200
Bibliographic Info: 76 photos, appendices, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2006 [2002]
pISBN: 978-0-7864-2655-3
eISBN: 978-1-4766-0477-0
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      ix
Preface      1

1. The Promise      3
2. Pioneer Prefabricated Homes      6
3. Strandlund’s Great Idea      10
4. The Hinsdale “Esquire” Model      18
5. Wyatt Takes the Ball      31
6. The Dream Bears Fruit      38
7. The Columbus Factory      55
8. The “Westchester” and “Newport” Models      67
9. Logistics and Pricing Strategy      74
10. Production Begins      79
11. The Tide Turns      85
12. Foreclosure      96
13. Congressional Speculation      110
14. The Lustron That Might Have Been      116
15. Lustron Lingers On      122
16. Postmortem      132

A. Strandlund Letter to Press and Accompanying Fact Sheet      135
B. Engineering Development of the Lustron Home      143
C. Lustron House Shipments      149
D. Lustron Manufacturing and Shipping Record from Company Files      150
E. Zone and Price List      151
F. Lustron Letters to a Customer, 1949      156
G. Annotated List of Articles from Better Enameling      158
Directory of Known Lustron Homes by State      159
Notes      175
Bibliography      179
Index      183

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “interesting…all levels”—Choice
  • “excellent”—SCA Journal
  • “lavishly illustrated…meticulously researched…strongly recommended”—E-Streams
  • “wealth of information…interesting facts”—Press Publications
  • “a goldmine…a veritable cornucopia of information…an indispensable source”—The Landmark