Lustron homes are modular kits designed completely in steel—from interior walls to roof shingles—during the housing shortages following World War II. From 1948 to 1950, under the leadership of engineer Carl Strandlund, the Lustron Corporation manufactured six models of affordable homes in a former fighter plane plant in Columbus, Ohio.
Buyers chose from four exterior colors of porcelain enamel baked onto the steel, and they could assemble the homes themselves over a weekend—at least that’s what the brochures said. The slick surface, similar to a stove or school locker, makes cleaning a breeze. The company even promoted hosing it down in heels!
The Lustron Corporation made fewer than 3,000 prefab kits before going bankrupt, and many have been torn down. Despite the company’s short run, its sturdy homes occupy a shiny spot in the history of American manufacturers making good, modern architecture accessible to buyers with modest means. The MoMA in New York City polished the Lustron legacy by reconstructing a dove gray model as part of the “Home Delivery” exhibit in 2008.