I still feel a burst of surprise when I see of the 2,000 or so Lustron homes that still exist. How many people do you know who live in a metal house? The porcelain-coated steel requires virtually no maintenance. Even the roof is metal!
A Lustron home nestled among the Victorians (homes, not citizens) in Villisca, Iowa.
I mentioned previously that the first Lustron home I ever saw was in Villisca, Iowa. Above is a picture to prove it! At the time, I had no idea what it was. But the metal-clad house caught my eye and the attention of my relatively new digital camera.
Villisca is best known for the 1912 axe murder mystery that remains unsolved today, but there are also several noteable homes and commercial buildings in town. Great mid-century modern architecture? Not so much.
That's why this Lustron is a welcome beacon in a Victorian fog.
No, I don't dislike Victorian homes. I find them quite charming. But hey, this is a MCM blog! : )
While visiting a cemetery and other locations in Marshalltown, Iowa we spotted this "Maize Yellow" Lustron home. I've been fascinated by these unique mid-century modern artifacts since I saw my first Lustron in Villisca, Iowa.
(Click on the photos to view larger images.)
For the uninitiated, Lustron homes are made of porcelain-covered steel and were built by Chicago-based entrepreneur Carl Strandlund in response to a housing shortage following World War II.
They were billed as rodent proof, rust proof, fire proof, and lightening proof and generally easy to maintain. It was said they would never have to be painted...inside or out.
Like the siding, the home's roof was also a series of metal "tiles" arranged like shingles. Inside, its gray metal walls featured pocket doors and built-ins, and warmth was provided via a radiant heat system.
While the company received a whopping 20,000 orders, only about 2,500 were built before the company declared bankruptcy in 1950. As testament to their durability, about 2,000 Lustron homes remain for owners, enthusiasts, and preservationists to enjoy.