Two of Lustron's national advertising slogans — "The House America Has Been Waiting For," and "Lustron: A New Standard for Living"--effectively expressed the nation's expectations for accelerated progress
and for the idea of a house as the "just reward" for a successful fight to defend the American way of life. As historian John Morton Blum observed, "the house and all things that went into it, 'the American
home,' best symbolized of all things material a brave new world of worldly good. The vision was in part...a romanticizing of desires born of depression circumstances and wartime deprivations."
The houses, which were originally expected to be produced at a rate of 100 per day expressed not only the notion of American innovation, but also served as a reminder of the increasingly present nuclear
family. At the beginning of production, a Lustron house contained only two bedrooms, the implicit indication that returning veterans and their wives were to engender future American generations,
and thereby regain that sense of American family. As The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel suggests, "Lustrons never aspired to grandeur. One-story ranches whose exterior sheen evokes more
auto than house, their oversize front 'picture windows' seem a bit off-kilter and their permanently pastelized colors — pink, aqua, yellow — a throwback to another time. Yet their design precision lends
them a spacious feel and their textured walls a sense of fun."
"The philosophical idea behind the Lustron house was to do for housing what Henry Ford had done for the Model T — make an Everyman house," says architectural historian Jim Draeger, chief of the Wisconsin
Historical Society's Office of Historic Buildings. "You make the same exact thing in such quantity that you push down the per-unit cost to a point everybody can afford," he said. "In the Model T, you
only got black. In the Lustron, you got six colors — aqua, pink, gray, mustard, slate blue and beige."
These houses were designed to create neighborhoods where virtually all homeowners and their families were homogeneous. The suburb was the child of the Lustron Corporation. The houses
fostered security, important in a post-World War II era where the threat of nuclear war loomed overhead. They also bolstered national spirit, as Strandlund had now applied the American conception
of efficiency and mass production to the housing industry. "Lustrons show the application of technology to solving a fundamental human problem [the need for inexpensive, community-oriented housing].
And architecturally, they're a fascinating building form, an unusual experiment with materials and design," says Draeger.
Today, Lustron homes enjoy official, historic preservation status.
Floorplan of a two bedroom house
Click over rooms to see photos
|Lustron houses never needed painting, and could be cleaned with a hose
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