Un/common Places

The Lustron Houses

Lustron House

The "house of tomorrow" is now on the endangered species list: Once there were eleven and now there are five---as Arlington’s inventory of Lustron houses continues to dwindle. All of the Lustrons in Arlington were built in 1949 and where the "Westchester Deluxe 02" model with two bedrooms, and one bath in 1,093 square feet of living space, a really cozy fit by today’s standards. But in post-WWII America these prefabricated metal porcelain enamel houses were marketed as a "new standard of living."

The house arrived in a kit that contained every panel, nut and bolt necessary and not a stick of wood. Everything was made of steel, including the roof shingles. Impervious to termites, fire and weather, the houses never needed painting. But, to quote Sam Samuels of the New York Times, "What time and wind cannot bring down, real estate prices can, especially when the land the Lustron sits on is worth more than the house itself." Such is the story of the Lustron house that formerly graced a corner lot in the Virginia Heights neighborhood on South 12th Street. From the Washington City Paper: "’My original idea was to tear it down, but when I discovered that the thing was historic, I decided it would be better to save it,’" remarked the property owner. He donated the house to Arlington County, which is looking for someplace to put it. For now it is boxed, relegated once more to "kit" status, awaiting rebirth, once again the "house of tomorrow."

For more information: http://www.arlingtonva.us/Departments/CPHD/ons/hp/CPHDOnsInsider_Lustron.aspx 
Pictured: L. The outside view of the Lustron House, R. The bedroom