Carl Strandland, above, asked President Truman's Reconstruction Finance Committee (RFC) in the summer of 1946 for $15 million worth of emergency loans to build small houses for GIs returning from the war effort. Strandland was not an architect, but his idea that metal neighborhoods could be prefabricated and swiftly built persuaded the President's Commission into signing the loan 15 minutes before its emergency powers expired, and the "Lustron" was born. To manufacture the ten tons of steel that went into each two-bedroom Lustron, Strandland bought a 25-acre factory lot in Columbus OH which had been used during WWII to build fighter planes. Strandland went back to the government for two more loans totaling another $25 million. A few years and only about 3,000 Lustrons later, the company was repossessed by the RFC in February of 1950 and declared bankruptcy a number of months later.
There was a three-bedroom model along with the two-bedroom Westchester. Strandland hired architect and MIT professor Carl Koch, later of TechBuilt fame to design the next generation of Lustrons.
This model was never produced. Koch later reflected, "When I leaf back through the records-plans, brochures, contracts, the transcript of Congressional autopsies-I admit to the confusion of feelings between the way we regarded it then... and the way it turned out to be. Seldom has there occurred a like mixture of idealism, greed, efficiency, stupidity, potential social good, and political evil. Seldom, surely, has a good idea come so close to realization, and been so decisively slugged."
Lustron also made a smaller Newport model in both two- and three-bedroom versions.
Lustrons were given individual serial numbers. Demonstration House #1 was built in New York City (at 56th street, now destroyed) and house #2 in Milwaukee WI. The first house for public sale was #18 in St. Louis MO.
Info on the largest concentration of Lustrons in America, now gone. Two of the houses are still preserved on the Base, 23 were destroyed in 2006, one was moved, and remaining 34 were destroyed in 2007.
According to Lustron Corporation documents prepared in late 1949, thirty-nine Lustron Homes were sold within the state of North Carolina. Still unaccounted for in North Carolina: according to Lustron expert Tom Fetters, there is a third Lustron in Nashville NC, #2127; four more Lustrons in Wilmington.
2025 = LUSTRONS AT 75 AND GOING FOR MORE!
Do you have information about your local preservation group's:
Guides: How to Site a New Lustron * How to Put a Lustron Together * How to Take a Lustron Apart
Selected media: Unique Des Moines homes: Lustron history (Axios Des Moines, 2023) * Why people thought steel houses were a good idea (VOX, 2022) * A father & daughter's obsession with a series of peculiar houses (WGN Chicago, 2022) * Lustron homes were a thing of the future, but became a part of the past (WOI Local 5, 2021) * The Lustron Home: One of the most ambitious attempts at large-scale housing production (Construction Physics, 2021) * Lustron: The Home of the Future Still Stands Today (Midwest Home, 2020) * Lustron History (WOSU-TV, 2012) * Lustron: The House America's Been Waiting For (WOSU-TV, 2004)
Additional Resources: Interior Shots * Lessons from Lustron * Lustron Locator * Lustron Pictures from the Library of Congress/Historical Building Survey * Lustron Research * Metal Buildings * Wikipedia
There's even a video game feature as well as a song, courtesy of Leonardo!
LUSTRON MAGAZINE INDEX
1948 - The Hugh G. and Sarah (Sally) Noffsinger House, approximately 1630 Country Club Road, Wilmington NC. Sold in 1975 to Hugh Noffsinger Jr. Sold in 1992 to Frank H. and Alison F. Bernhart. They gave the house (not the land) to Historic Wilmington, who gave the house away to sculptors Alvin O. and Donnalee Frega in March of 1992. They moved it to 5724 Sidbury Road, Castle Hayne NC, bottom photo. Over time, the house was dismantled for art projects. The property also had huge amounts of old metal like typewriters, shipping containers, and metal staircases. Just before the property was sold in 2000 to Jack and Elizabeth James, the scrap metal was taken to recycling. Top photo by Gray Laughridge; middle photo of Frega inside the house by Todd Sumlin.
1948 - The Sue Sims and C.E. Riley House, 6312 South Maplewood Street, Pleasant Garden NC. Deeded in 1971 to Sue Sims Riley. Sold in 1972 to Doris A. and Linwood P. Virden. Deeded in 1972 to Doria A. Virden. Sold in 1994 to Sheila Marie S. and Walter Ray Rush Jr. Owned by Walter as of 2022.
1948 - 2302 Lawndale Drive, Greensboro NC. Sold to P. J. and Alice Attayek. Sold in 1990 to Frances C. Roberson. Sold to Karen L. Moorefield, who still owned it as of 2022.
1948 - 1404 Virginia Avenue, Durham NC. Built by Eileen Johns, pioneer woman real estate broker and builder, who sold and built Lustron houses in the Durham area from 1948-1951. Sold to Hilda M. Parrish. Sold in 1999 to Margaret Radzwiller, who put in a catering kitchen for her business. Sold in 2022 to Kathleen Holt.
1948 - 1821 Ebert Road, Winston-Salem NC. Moved here in 1955 from another location. Sold in 2006 to Jean and Elizabeth Smith, who still owned it as of 2022.
1948 - The Stern/Callahan House, 2103 Dellwood Drive, Greensboro NC. Sold in 1949 to R. E. McCoy. Sold in 1953 to John R. Thomas. Sold to Patrick McDaid. Sold between 1987 and 1991 to Karen L. Moorefield and Vivian Riddle. Sold in 1993 to Karen L. Moorefield who still owned it as of 2022. Rental house. Second photo by Nancy Sidelinger.
1948 - The Otto and Hattie Dombrower Meyer House, 122 North Dennis Street, Enfield NC. Large open porch added in 1950. Deeded to Miriam K. and Max Meyer Jr. Sold in 1977 to Wanda D. and Philip Sykes. Sold in 1988 back to Miriam K. and Max Meyer Jr. Sold in 1990 to Carrie V. and Harley James Davis. Sold in 1999 to Thurman Draughan, who still owned it as of 2022. Photos by Dean Jeffrey.
1949 - The James Tidler House, 201 Brookwood Avenue, Wilmington NC. In 1987, a large addition was built in the back. Sold to John Yocom. Sold to the Yocom Family Irrevocable Trust. Sold in 2021 to Carrie Ann Boyer and Megan Marchant. Top photos by Heather Wagner Slane; bottom photo by Hugh Morton.
1949 - The Joyner House, 604 North Main Street, Louisburg NC. Serial number 00755. Built as a wedding present for the son of the doctor who owned the entire block. Has been substantially added on to the rear, bottom photo. Sold in 2003 to Mollie and Morise Evans. For sale by Mollie in 2023.
1949 - The Edward T. and Betty Bass House, 104 North Hilliard Street, Nashville NC. Sold around 1958 to Earl Waters. Sold in 2001 to Jonathan Boulden who still owned it as of 2022.
1949 - #1849, The J. Clarence and Irene Beal House, 107 South Collins Street, Nashville NC. Three-bedroom unit. Sold in 2000. Sold in 2005 to Nashville United Methodist Church, right next door. It was slated for demolition in April 2011 for church expansion. Gene Hammond bought it later in 2011, disassembled it, and moved it to Stoneville NC where as of early 2012 it was in storage. Photos by Wallace Abernethy.
1949 - The Henry B. and Louise M. Keir House, 2120 Sprunt Avenue, Durham NC. Built by Eileen Johns, one of the first women brokers and builders who sold and built Lustron houses from 1948-1951. Addition in 1957, plus a carport. Sold in 2000 to Harvey S. and Olivera Finn. Sold in 2009 to Deborah Chay, who removed the carport and completely renovated the addition. Video on the renovation. Still owned by Chay in 2022. Bottom three photos by Tad Davis.
1949 - #1974, The Colonel Rambeau House, 2421 Perkins Road, Durham NC. Built by Eileen Johns, pioneer woman real estate broker and builder, who sold and built Lustron houses in the Durham area from 1948-1951. Added a garage. Sold to the Mitchells. Sold in 1957 to Charles Albert (Al) Hilliard who added the back room and bath and then joined it to the garage. According to Hilliard, "I had it converted to gas heat and made a number of changes. I also devised a method for air conditioning and put it in. The house has no load bearing walls and the rooms can be changed. There is a panel on the far left end of the house that can be removed and the entire house taken down piece by piece. The house was ahead of its time." Sold in 1977 to Sarah Titus who added a fireplace. Sold in 1993 to Herbert F. and Jane Crovitz. Sold in 1999 to Jean P. Berry and Jean T. Berry. Sold to Ron Jacobsen. Sold in 2021 to Pamela Herschberger.
1949 - The Elizabeth R. and Lonas A. Williams House, 109 Stephens Street, Chapel Hill NC. Purchased from Taylor-Made Homes of Greensboro. The Chapel Hill Junior Chamber of Commerce held a public viewing of the house (as a fundraiser) in late May and early June, 1949. Sold in 1967 to Robert D. and Phyllis Verhalen. Sold in 1973 to Elizabeth Beleny. Sold in 1984 to Daniel Sobotka. Sold in 1988 to the Clark C. Burritt family. Sold in 1994 to Julie Bond-Meers who still owned it as of 2022. First photo by Matt Jones; second photo by Jay Fulkerson; ad from Chapel Hill Weekly, 6/3/1949.
1949 - 1102 West Vernon Avenue (US 258 Business), Kinston NC. Sold to Betty Bryan. Sold in 2005 to REDCO LLC, who still owned it as of 2022.
1949 - #1732, The Bessie Brown House, 1300 East 4th Street, Greenville NC. Has a garage addition. Sold to Jeffrey and Judy Tant, who still owned it as of 2022.
1949 - #796, The June L. and Bruce A. Elmore House, 70 Hampden Road, Asheville NC. Two-bedroom unit. Sold 1955 to Thomas E. Whitmire aka Edmund T. Whitmire. Deeded in 1964 to Jean Webster Whitmire and Edmund T. Whitmire. Sold in 1972 to Sylvia B. and Edward Charles Thielecke. Sold in 1974 to Elenora B. and John R. Newton. Sold in 1982 to Patricia Girard and Andrew Campbell. Sold in 1985 to Tommie Lynn Carter. Sold in 2012 to Equity Trust Company. Sold in 2014 to Katie and Mark Fauts, who still owned it as of 2022.
1949 - #1219, The Rossie Marshall Williamson House, 208 East 5th Street, Tabor City NC. Transferred in 2006 to the Annabelle G. Williamson Trust. Sold in 2008 to G.T. Burroughs, Inc., who still owned it as of 2022.
1949 - The J. Wyatt Womack House, 2202 Richardson Drive, Reidsville NC. Sold in 1990 to James L. Thompson Jr. Sold in 1993 to Malinda T. Murray, later married to Tony Lynn Pendergraph. Deeded in 2013 to Malinda T. Pendergraph, who still owned it as of 2022.
Around 1949 - The George and Jessie Morris House, aka Gotno Farm, 3612 Buffaloe Road, Raleigh NC. Radiant floor heating. Deeded in 1988 to Jessie Morris. Transferred in 1997 to the heirs. Transferred in 2007 to Jessie's sister Virginia A. Allen, Trustee. Was a rental house for years. According to their son, George Thomas Arnold (Tom) Morris, Gotno Farm was very accurate for his father, who was a plastering contractor who spent his childhood and young adult years on California and Baja. Morris recalled a NO TENGO RANCHO sign there and appropriated the title for his property in Raleigh. Land was sold; house was moved to 314 Haywood Street in downtown Raleigh in late 2017. Sold in 2021 to Owen Gwyn Jr., who is finishing the rebuilding at its new site.
Top photo by Dean Jeffrey, rest by Sally Keeney. Video. Video 2. Video 3.2020 Article.
1950 - 112 Beverly Road, Asheville NC. Sold in 1967 to Martha J. and Thomas D. Harding, who still owned it as of 2022. Has been remodeled and added onto, obscuring the original exterior. House was originally Dutch Blue on the outside and yellow on the inside, needs verification.
1950 - The Ralph Maxwell House, 607 West Pope Street, Dunn NC. Sold to Russell and Sallie Thomas. Transferred in 2002 to their LLC, TY Properties LLC, which remains the owner as of 2022. Became a rental house.
1950 - #683, 1415 Rhem Avenue, New Bern NC. Sold in 2005 to Buck Loy, who still owned it as of 2022.
1950 - The Fred and Hazel M. Crouch House, 1733 Brooks Avenue, Raleigh NC. Reported incorrectly on other Lustron websites as 1731 Brooks. Sold in 1965 to Edith Hobgood. Sold to Oliver and Mildred Hobgood. Sold in 1977 to Robert L. Henline Jr. Sold to 1978 Frances Wilson. Deeded in 1994 to her heirs. Sold in 1994 to Walter James Miller. Destroyed by Hurricane Fran. Sold to Creech Construction in 1999, who built a new house, bottom photo.
1950 - The Thomas B. and Mabel B. Caddell House, 606 Pinecrest Street, Carthage NC. Had a wood addition, carport, and pool added. Sold in 2021 to WH Brown Family Farms, LLC, who destroyed it.
1950 - 26 Warlick Street, Jacksonville NC. Sold in 1992 to Jimmie Sawyer, who still owned it as of 2022.
1950 - 1325 Sunset Avenue, Rocky Mount NC. Has a Lustron garage. Sold in 2013 to Debbie C. Taylor, who still owned it as of 2022. Photos by Lawrence Auld.
1950 - 611 North Jefferson Avenue, Goldsboro NC. Has been extensively added onto, as shown above. Sold in 2021 to J.H. Moye Enterprises LLC, which still owned it as of 2022.
1950 - The Clark House, 425 Credle Street, Pittsboro NC. Sold to George Wallace Poole. Sold in 1994 to Patricia Randorf, who still owned it as of 2022.
1950 - #659, 310 Oakdale Street, Gastonia NC. Several owners. Sold in 1988 to Roger E. Nix. Sold in 1997 to Anthony and Marietta Kithcart. Sold in 2005 to Felisha N. Jones. Went into foreclosure. Sold in 2008 to Cathy H. Allen, who still owned it as of 2022. Renovated.
1950 - The Paul Edwin Pickett House, 2821 Van Dyke Avenue, Raleigh NC. Sold in 1965 to RW and Betty Jean Strobel. Sold in 1978 to Dennis Ducker. Sold in 1992 to Rachel Pattishall. Destroyed in 1997 by a hurricane. Replaced by new house in 1998, bottom photo.
1950 - The J. Lewis and Evelyn Allison House, 409 Yarmouth Road, Raleigh NC. Sold to the Allisons by the Jones-Whitehead Homes of Wilson NC, H. G. Whitehead (President). Sold in 1954 to Cyrus and Carolyn King. Sold in 2005 to Adam Lichtin. Sold later in 2005 to Russell Builders. Sold later in 2005 to James Betts. The Lustron was destroyed in 2006 and replaced with a new house, bottom photo.
1950 - #2417, 1716 Trent Boulevard, New Bern NC. Sold to Ted Gerard and Felicia Vallee, who still owned it as of 2022. Suffered extensive hurricane damage from a tree falling on it. As of 2011, the side was still covered with a tarp.
1950 - #1483, 210 Cromwell Avenue, Tarboro NC. Sold in 2010 to Edward Hines Marrow Jr. Sold in 2019 to Tracy R. Woolard and Anthony Davis, who still owned it as of 2022. Photo by Lawrence Auld.
1950 - 918 Eastern Avenue, Rocky Mount NC. Sold in 1989 to Steven Powell. Sold in 2021 to A Fresh New Start. Top photo by Lawrence Auld.
1950 - The J. C. McCollum House, #2144, 684 West Street, Pittsboro NC. Original address was 707 West Street, later 603 West Street. Deeded in 1996 to Hazel Crissman McCollum. Deeded to Susan K. McCollum, John McCollum II, Judith McCollum Collins, and CD Collins. Sold in 2011 to Shannon and Erica Plummer, owners of adjacent properties. Deteriorated, vandalized, and vacant for a number of years. Lots zoned for commercial development and sold in 2016 to Bourbon and Wine LLC who renovated the building including adding reclaimed flooring from a basketball court. They moved the building to its present site in 2018 and revived it as a retail business, ODDCO. Patio added in 2020. As of 2023, operating as Thirsty Skull Brewery and Taproom. Photo with flamingoes by Leilani Carter.
1950 - The Edward T. and Alta Stringham House, 7 Mount Bolus Road, Chapel Hill NC. Purchased from Taylor-Made Homes of Greensboro. Jim Webb designed an addition in 1950, which was built. Sold in 1996 to James and Edith McEntyre. Landscape architect David Swanson bought and disassembled the Lustron in June 1997 with assistance from Charlie Kahn. A new house was later built on the lot. About five years later Swanson sold the Lustron, as parts, to Gary Ace and Luna Mountainsea. Sold in 2023 to Mark Seibel who is reconstructing it on his property in Clayton, where he hopes to add more Lustrons.
Around 1950 - 1811 Glendale Avenue, Durham NC. Built by Eileen Johns, pioneer real estate broker who sold and built Lustron houses in the Durham area from 1948-1951. Owned at one time by the Honeycutts. This is a three-bedroom unit. Sold to Nathan Forrest Daniels, trustee. Sold to Steven Michael Ramarge. Sold in 2017 to Jennifer Salzer, who still owned it as of 2022.
Around 1950 - The Mallory Pittman House, 400 North Carolina Avenue NW, Wilson NC. Built as a rental property. Sold in 1978 to Katherine Russell Barnes. Sold in 2005 to SRT Investments. Sold in 2012 to Jense and Herbert H. Harris, who still owned it in 2022. Photos by Val Glaser.
Around 1950 - The Frances and Anne Ainsworth House, 617 Myers Lane, Greensboro NC. They were the only residents of the Lustron, which was sold and destroyed in 2000 with a new home shown above built on the site in 2001.
Around 1950 - The Patrick Barnes Sr. House, 274 McCoy Road, Apex NC. The site was formerly called Bells NC. Barnes' wife's family, the Bells, had owned the 250+ acres of land since the 1700s. In the 1970s, the government took 2/3 of the land through eminent domain at $651/acre for Jordan Lake. Transferred in 1958 to his son Patrick Barnes Jr. Sometime after 1991, when the house was documented as standing by local historians, Barnes bulldozed a pit next to the Lustron, destroyed it, and buried it. It is likely still there underground.
1951 - The Bruce and Pauline Porter House, 1700 Banbury Road, Raleigh NC. Sold in 1977 to Frank and Francoise Hansberger III. Sold in 1978 to Michael H. Palmer. Destroyed in 1998 for a new house, bottom photo.
1952 - #2208, 1906 Glendale Avenue, Durham NC. Built by Eileen Johns, pioneer woman real estate broker and builder, who sold and built Lustron houses in the Durham area from 1948-1951. Sold to Hazel Parrish. Sold to Yance T. Parrish who still owned it as of 2022.
1952 - The Ashby and Gladys Rice House, 406 Yarmouth Road, Raleigh NC. Sold in 1969 to Kurt and Maren Leonard. Sold in 1974 to John and Sandra Irving who still owned it as of 2022. Top photo from 1995. Added a two-story addition with garage and guest house.
1952 - The Gladys E. and Rowland D. Wade House, 175 Page Road, Pinehurst NC. Sold in 1962 to E. Elizabeth and J.C.T. Sihler. Sold in 1997 to daughter Evelyn and John Deacon. Sold in 2020 to Karen Sihler and Bren Baldock.
1953 - The Federico G. Gil House, 5 Mount Bolus Road, Chapel Hill NC. Gil was an assistant professor of political science at UNC. Purchased from Taylor-Made Homes of Greensboro. It was Model #2 in "Dove Gray." In the 1950s a two-story addition (upstairs is the living area, downstairs is a garage) was attached to the east side of the original structure. Gil sold the property in 1992 to the Garcia family. In 2022 it's owned by Edgardo Garcia, and is a rental property. Bottom photo by Jay Fulkerson.
Year unknown - 1204 Broad Street, Durham NC. Various Lustron registries put one at this location, but there's a 1920 house there, so this information is incorrect. The 2011 photo of 1204 Broad at LustronConnection.com is actually 2120 Sprunt Street in Durham.
Year unknown - 900 Sunset Avenue, Rocky Mount NC. Sold in 1976 to Robert D. White who destroyed it for a medical office building, above. Sold in 1979 to Hazelbelle P. White. Sold in 1988 to William R. and Sarah F. and Jones. Sold in 2008 to Lake North LLC. Photo above is as of May 2010.
Year unknown - The Taylor House, 1802 East Ash Street, Goldsboro NC. Sold to a doctor. Destroyed around 2005.
Year unknown - The Ray McDonald House, 305 South Page Street, Southern Pines NC. Photo by Carolyn Morton. Destroyed in 2020.
Year unknown - 15341 Palmer Road, Marston NC. Former Carrboro Mayor Robert Drakeford's family moved it from the McCain prison on Hwy 211 around 1996. Reginald Drakeford still owns it as of 2022. Top two photos by Virginia Faust (2017 and 2022); bottom photo by Dean Jeffrey (2019).
Year unknown - 105 South Stewart Street, Rockingham NC. Unclear when house was sited here. Lot inherited by Dr. Zachary Cox in 1942. Sold in 1977 to Mary and Frank T. Boyd Sr. Painted white some time between 2008 and 2013; painted current colors (bottom photo) some time after that. Side porch enclosed. Appears vacant in 2022. Owned in 2022 by Frank T. Boyd Sr. heirs.
Year unknown - 412 South Deans Street, Wilson NC. Sold in 1985 to D. Stuart and Starlette Walson. Destroyed and replaced with a new house, bottom photo. Sold in 2010 to Scott Benson of Benson Rentals. Bottom photo by Val Glaser.
Year unknown - 105 Brooks Avenue, Rockingham NC. Possibly moved here in 1960. Sold to Lewpar, LLC. Sold in 2005 to the Margaret L. and Henry W. Parker Trust. Sold in 2015 to Frank T. Boyd Sr. Deceased in 2020, still legal owner as of 2022.
Years unknown - Eight Lustrons on Lustron Drive, located at the intersection of Hwy 211 (Aberdeen Road) and Old NC 211 in McCain NC. They were built for employees of the nearby McCain Tuberculosis Sanatorium (designed by Carter Williams). When that facility closed, the building was converted to a prison facility, McCain Correctional Hospital, which closed in April 2010. Lustron Drive is now closed and gated (photo above).
According to Barbara and Adrian Allred who lived in the wooden house and worked at McCain, Lustron Drive had one wooden house on the right corner and then the eight Lustron houses along the same side of the street. There were no other houses on the street. The Lustrons were situated 30 to 40 feet apart and were yellow and blue with grey interiors. Most were two bedroom. One was numbered 55 and was rented during 1975 by Vijaykumar Mehta. We do not know the other numbers.
In the early 1980s, all the homes were sold. None were destroyed at that time. Barbara Allred heard that one went to the NC coast. Three were bought by D. P. Black of Aberdeen who put them disassembled into storage. After Mr. Black's untimely death in 2021, Preservation NC and NC Modernist were able to rescue some useable parts before the deadline for removal. The trusses had been stored outside in a field and were deemed by an engineer to be unlikely to pass a building inspection due to pitting and rust so were not moved. The main trailer had a tree fall on it at some point. At some point, another trailer held the bulk of the 2X2 panels, 5 "squiggle" downspouts, 5 doors, 3 sinks and toilets, but it could not be located on any of Mr. Black's multiple properties. Hoewever, three vanities, three electrical boxes and three of the oversized bathtubs were found! They came from 54, 56, and 58 Lustron Drive based upon address numbers on exterior panels (serial numbers 1768 and 1905; third serial plate panel not found).
The Pines Preservation Guild helped to temporarily secure a portion of a warehouse in Carthage where the parts could be sorted. Partially cleaned and inventoried; some have gone to NC Lustrons for repairs; most are currently stored in Chatham County NC.
According to Black, this house was moved from McCain to its location at approximately 255 Rowe Avenue, Aberdeen NC. As of 2022, owned by Cynthia B. and Robert Kennedy.
Sources include: The Lustron Home by Thomas (Tom) Fetters; "House of Steel's Price a Steal" by Andrea Shaw; D. P. Black; Barbara Allred; Wilmington NC Morning Star, 3/10/1992; The Architectural Heritage of Chatham County NC (1991) by Rachel Osborn and Ruth Selden-Sturgill; OpenOrange. Many thanks to researchers Carolyn Morton, Steve Pulling, Flora O'Brien, Claudia Brown, Deborah Chay, Jay Fulkerson, Buck Loy, Paul Magee, and Val Glaser.