In this blog post let’s talk about the born of lustron houses. Carl Strandland left and 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 several months later.

There was a three-bedroom model along with the two-bedroom Westchester. Lustron Houses also made a smaller Newport model in both two- and three-bedroom versions.

Lustron houses 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.

Lustron houses came on a truck as a kit and local builders put them together.

Additional Resources:
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.

1946 – The Hugh G. and Sarah (Sally) Noffsinger House, approximately 1630 Country Club Road, Wilmington. 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 it away to Alvin O. and Donnalee Frega in March of 1992. They moved it to 5724 Sidbury Road, Castle Hayne NC, bottom photo. Sold in 2000 to Jack L. and Elizabeth I. James who still owned it as of 2012. Top photo by Gray Laughridge. The middle photo of Frega inside the house by Todd Sumlin.

1947 – The Sue Sims and C.E. Riley House, 6312 South Maplewood Street, Pleasant Garden NC. Deeded to Sue Sims Riley in 1971. 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. 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.

1949 – 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 – 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 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. Belonged to George Morris until 1988 when it was deeded to Jessie Morris. Transferred to the heirs of Jessie Morris in 1997. Transferred in 2007 to Jessie’s sister Virginia A. Allen, Trustee. Was a rental house for years. For sale in 2014. 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 in California and Baja. Morris recalled a NO TENGO RANCHO sign there and appropriated the title for his property in Raleigh.

1949 – The Hubert and Laura Neville House, 109 Stephens Street, Chapel Hill. 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. The first photo was by Matt Jones. The second photo is 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, 1300 East Fourth Street, Greenville NC. Has a garage addition.
Sold to Jeffrey Tant & Judy Tant.

1949 – #1219, The Rossie Marshall Williamson House, 208 East Fifth Street, Tabor City NC. Transferred in 2006 to the Annabelle G. Williamson Trust. Sold by the Estate in 2008 to G.T. Burroughs Inc.

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 250+ acres of land since the 1700’s. In the 1970’s, 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 – #1483, 210 Cromwell, Tarboro NC. Photo by Lawrence Auld. Sold to Edward Marrow. Sold in 2010.

And here’s a very sad little Lustron (post-WW2 prefab), suffering greatly from carbuncles of the skin. Lustron houses were made with 2×2 20-gage metal panels, with a porcelain enamel coating. Painting Lustron houses is exactly like trying to paint the top of a 1960s Lady Kenmore washing machine. Never a good idea.

1950 – 918 Eastern Avenue, Rocky Mount NC. Top photo by Lawrence Auld. Sold in 1989 to Steven Powell.

1950 – #2144, 603 West Street, renumbered from the original 707 West Street, Pittsboro NC. Sold in 1996 to Hazel Crissman McCollum. Sold to Susan K. McCollum, John McCollum II, Judith McCollum Collins, and CD Collins. Sold in 2011 to Shannon and Erica Plummer. Deteriorated, has been vandalized, and is vacant. For sale in 2014. Added to the NCMH Endangered List in 2014. Bottom photo by Leilani Carter.

1952 – 175 Page Road, Pinehurst NC. Sold to Canadian golfer Elizabeth Sihler around 1956 as a vacation house. Transferred to daughter Evelyn and husband John Deacon in the late 1990s.

1953 – The Federico G. Gil House, 5 Mount Bolus Road, Chapel Hill. 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. Jim Webb designed an addition in 1950, which was built. Sold in 1996 to James and Edith McIntyre. Landscape architect David Swanson bought and disassembled the Lustron with assistance from Charlie Kahn in June 1997. 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.

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.

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