Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Lustron: The Power of Steel

Another early memory of mine is the "green and yellow house on Harvard." I remember my Dad mentioning they had looked at this model home when shopping for their first house. At the time I didn't realize it, but that model home was a Lustron. It's still there if you drive up Harvard Avenue north of Pine Street.

Lustrons were pre-fabricated homes made of porcelainized steel– very similar to gas stations in the Sixties. The kit was delivered by truck and the house was assembled on-site. The rugged metal panels never needed painting, which was a popular feature in more rugged climates up north. They never really caught on, especially in this part of the country.

The idea was so emblematic of the period following World War Two. In an era when people seriously believed there would soon be a helicopter in every driveway, it wasn't so far fetched to consider buying these metal houses. But like so many ideas of the postwar era, it was too far ahead of its time. Only now are we seeing serious attempts at high-quality prefab housing.

There are only two Lustrons I know of in Oklahoma. The one near my childhood neighborhood in north Tulsa (above) and one in Bartlesville (right).

For an online register and map of Lustrons near you visit the Lustron Locator Map.
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Postscript.