Sunday, May 17, 2009

Lustron houses

Blue Lustron House at 3802 W Capitol Drive, Milwaukee.

One of my longtime fascinations is Lustron houses. I didn't know until four years ago that they have a name; I used to call them Tile Houses. I happened to grow up near a rich cluster of Lustrons.- all blue-green, except for one which was tan. I would go out on my bike and try to find more, and had a route of sorts to go and visit them. This was of course pre-internet- now all of their addresses are on the online Lustron Registry. Apparently other people appreciate them too, since they also have their own Preservation Association. Lustron at 2746 N 82nd Street

In a 2005 article from Chicago's New City newspaper, Douglas Knerr (author of Suburban Steel: The Magnificent Failure of the Lustron Corporation) said that he first became interested in the Lustron houses when his cousin married a boy who had grown up in a Lustron house in Ohio, affording Knerr the opportunity to tour the inside. Knerr "instantly noticed that his cousin's new family had no use for nails or for a hammer. They hung all their photos and artwork directly to their home's walls using magnets. And maintenance? That was minimal. Nothing chipped or faded." But Knerr saw something larger: "These homes are an important part of our history. They reflect an effort by the government to help provide affordable houseing on a mass scale, something that we are still wrestling with today."

Last year, a DVD was released about the sad collapse of the visionary Lustron company (it was a conspiracy, for you believers). I recently was told by a reliable source that my mom reads all of my blog posts, and since my birthday is coming up soon perhaps she will come up with a great gift idea for me.Lustron at 2777 N. 82nd Street; as you can see, it has aluminum siding now.

I'm going to try to photograph all of the other Milwaukee Lustrons in the near future.


Rhyno said...

My mom and I were just talking about these the other day.

Anonymous said...

You must have lived near the same neighborhood I lived in when my children were young. We would point out and comment on these Lustron homes during our bike rides around the neighborhood.