Carl Strandland, left, 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.