lustron house

A Lustron house in Lombard, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. I became obsessed with these at a rather unfortunate time … right after I went on what became my Tumblr hiatus. Otherwise, I would have been spamming you all in June and July with posts about these rare stainless steel pre-fab houses. I took this photo in early July during my Chicagoland visit.

For the record, 3,500 of these were built across America by the Chicago-based Lustron Corporation between 1947 and 1950, when the company dissolved after being undermined by the U.S. government. They are rat-proof, fire-proof (if a fire starts, doors close and the fire burns itself out in the room where it starts), can be washed down with a hose for cleaning and you can hang up posters and other ephemera with magnets instead of pinning them to the wall! Because of the enamel coating, you don’t really ever have to paint them, either. They were $20,000 cheaper than the average houses of the time.

Even though the company was based in Chicago, there are none within the city limits because steel chimneys are illegal there. Most Lustron houses were built in communities near military installations; Austin was actually supposed to get a bunch of Lustron houses near Bergstrom Air Force Base before the company went under. Lombard has the biggest collection of them left in the country; I saw three on one block alone. I’d love to invest in manufacturing modified versions of these houses and create more affordable housing.