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. 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.
Lustrons came on a truck as a kit and local builders put them together.
Photo of a Lustron house with all the parts laid out.
Info on the largest concentration of Lustrons in America, now gone. According to Lustron expert Tom Fetters, there were 60 units with serial numbers between #200 and #300. Two of the houses are still preserved on the Base, 23 were demolished 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. Want to help in the search for them? Please email Virginia Faust, NCModernist's chief Lustron archivist.
There's even a song, courtesy of Leonardo!
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 April 2010 to Scott Benson of Benson Rentals. Bottom photo by Val Glaser.
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 Junior.
1948 - 2302 Lawndale, Greensboro NC. Sold to P. J. and Alice Attayek. Sold in 1990 to Frances C. Roberson. Sold to Karen L. Moorefield.
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 still owned it as of 2012.
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 2013. 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. Photos by Dean Jeffrey.
1949 - The James Tidler House, 201 Brookwood Avenue, Wilmington NC. Top photos by Heather Wagner Slane. Bottom photo by Hugh Morton. In 1987, a large addition was built in the back. Sold to John Yocom. Sold to the Yocom Family Irrevocable Trust which still owned it as of 2012.
1949 - The Joyner House, 604 North Main Street, Louisburg NC. 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.
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. Top photo by Dean Jeffrey, rest by Sally Keeney. 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 Haywood Streetin downtown Raleigh in late 2017. Video. Video 2. Video 3.
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 2012.
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. 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 on a fireplace. Sold in 1993 to Herbert F. and Jane Crovitz. Sold in 1999 to Jean P. Berry and Jean T. Berry who still owned it as of 2012.
1949 - The Hubert and Laura Neville House, 109 Stephens Street, Chapel Hill NC. Sold in 1949 to Lonas A. and Elizabeth R. Williams. 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 owns it as of 2014. First photo by Matt Jones. Second photo by Jay Fulkerson.
1949 - 1102 West Vernon Avenue (US 258 Business), Kinston NC. Owned as of 2005 by Betty Bryan. Sold in 2005 to REDCO LLC.
1949 - #1732, The Bessie Brown House, 1300 East Fourth Street, Greenville NC. Has a garage addition. Sold to Jeffrey and Judy Tant.
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.
1949 - #1219, The Rossie Marshall Williamson House, 208 East Fifth Street, Tabor City NC. Transferred in 2006 to the Annabelle G. Williamson Trust. Sold in 2008 to G.T. Burroughs Inc.
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.
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.
112 Beverly Road, Asheville NC. Sold in 1967 to Martha J. and Thomas D.
Has been remodeled and added onto, obscuring the original exterior.
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. Became a rental house.
1950 - #683, 1415 Rhem Avenue, New Bern NC. Sold in 2005 to Buck Loy.
Around 1950 - The Frances and Anne Ainsworth House, 617 Myers, 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.
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 - 606 Pinecrest, Carthage NC. Has a wood addition, carport and pool. For sale in 2015.
1950 - 26 Warlick, Jacksonville NC. Sold in 1992 to Jimmie Sawyer.
1950 - 1325 Sunset, Rocky Mount NC. Photos by Lawrence Auld. Has a Lustron garage.
1950 - 611 North Jefferson Street, Goldsboro NC. Has been extensively added onto, as shown above.
1950 - The Clark House, 425 Credle Street, Pittsboro NC. Sold to George Wallace Poole. Sold in 1994 to Patricia Randorf.
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.
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. Renovated; was for sale 2009-2011.
1950 - The Paul Edwin Pickett House, 2821 Van Dyke, 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, 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. 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, Tarboro NC. Photo by Lawrence Auld. Sold to Edward Marrow. Sold in 2010.
1950 - 918 Eastern Avenue, Rocky Mount NC. Top photo by Lawrence Auld. Sold in 1989 to Steven Powell.
1950 - The J. C. McCollum House, #2144, 603 West Street, Pittsboro NC. Original address was 707 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 will move the building to another Pittsboro site in 2018. Bottom photo by Leilani Carter.
1951 - The Bruce and Pauline Porter House, 1700 Banbury, 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, 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 2012.
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.
1952 - The Ashby and Gladys Rice House, 406 Yarmouth, Raleigh NC. Sold in 1969 to Kurt and Maren Leonard. Sold in 1974 to John and Sandra Irving who still owned it as of 2012. Top photo from 1995. Added a two-story addition with garage and guest house.
1952 - 175 Page Road, Pinehurst NC. Sold around 1956 to Canadian golfer Elizabeth Sihler as a vacation house. Deeded in the late 1990s to daughter Evelyn and husband John Deacon.
1953 - The Federico G. Gil House, 5 Mount Bolus Road, Chapel Hill NC. Rebuilt with a two-story addition on the side. Sold in 1996 to Edgardo R. Garcia. Now a rental house. Bottom photo by Jay Fulkerson.
1950 - The Edward T. and Alta Stringham House, 7 Mount Bolus Road, Chapel Hill NC. 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. As of 2012 it was still in storage and available for sale.
Year unknown - 900 Sunset, 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 - 1800 block of East Ash Street, Goldsboro NC. Verified destroyed by New Bern Lustron owner Buck Loy.
Year unknown - 1821 Ebert Street, Winston-Salem NC. Moved here in 1955 from another location. Sold in 2006 to Jean and Elizabeth Smith.
Year Unknown - 105 South Stewart Street, Rockingham NC.
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. As of early 2012, he still had them.
According to Black, this house was moved from McCain to its location at approximately 255 Rowe Avenue, Aberdeen NC.
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. Many thanks to researchers Carolyn Morton, Steve Pulling, Flora O'Brien, Claudia Brown, Deborah Chay, Jay Fulkerson, Buck Loy, Paul Magee, and Val Glaser.