At Home: Living in an Icon, the Lustron Home
Brian Reaume was not looking for a home when he came across a Lustron home in Kenmore Park.
“I had just read about them in Dwell magazine about two months before I saw this one,” says Reaume. “I felt a rush of panic and love, I called the lady and as soon as I stepped inside I told her to take the carpeting, the ceiling fan and the blinds because it was going to throw those out after buying it.”
The open layout, modern feel, and overall design of the home were especially appealing.
Reaume’s Lustron is the Westchester Deluxe model and very much intact. The home has two bedrooms and one bathroom and 1020 square feet.
He has owned the home about six years.
“[The home] was waiting for someone to love it,” he says. “I felt like we needed each other, that we both wanted to heal and grow.”
Since buying the home, Reaume has put in all new floors, sealed the windows, and had some glass replaced. Future renovation needs include fixing the gutters.
“I need a metal fabricator, or a set of original house gutters,” he says.
The Lustron home models are specialized prefabricated homes and repairs can sometimes be difficult.
“Sometimes I do wish I could just buy drywall repair kits and paint,” says Reaume. “I need to be innovative with this house.”
Lustrons have gained popularity across the country as people have looked to lessen their footprint and live a simpler lifestyle. There are communities online where people can find others who love Lustron homes, get hints on repairs, locate homes for parts, and share their stories. The Whitehall Historical Society has also helped Reaume learn how to care for his home.
“It is amazing how much people really dig on this house, especially those that know the history,” says Reaume.
Lustrons were mass-produced in Columbus in the late 1940s, in a plant on Fifth Avenue near the Columbus Regional Airport Authority. From an earlier article about the Lustron home currently on display at the Ohio Historical Center:
Built with porcelain enameled steel and government subsidies, the Lustron house -a one-story, gabled-roof ranch with a bay window and side porch- came in four models and came in colors of Surf Blue, Blue-green, Dove Gray, Maize Yellow, Desert Tan, Green, Pink, and White; trimmed in eggshell white and featuring dark grey roofing tiles. Morris Beckman of Chicago architectural firm Beckman and Blass designed the home. A new Lustron cost anywhere from $6,000 – $10,000.
Production began in 1947 with the a plan to produce 100 homes a day at the 1 million square-foot production plant located by the Port Columbus International Airport. By the early 1950s, the company collapsed under foreclosure and bankruptcy, having only manufactured 2,498 Lustron homes out of over 20,000 orders.
Reaume believes his home to be one of the first homes delivered.
“The kitchen/dining area pass-through, the master bedroom vanity, the living area mirror, and the built in book shelves are all in place,” he says. “I do believe my house was one of the first to be delivered because it has the two small windows in each bedroom. I believe these were replaced with larger windows in mid 1948, not too far into their initial manufacturing.”
Reaume’s home is decorated with lots of local art, and his mid-century belongings are perfectly at home inside.
“A natural fit for the home and my style,” he says. “This house is a perfect example of how objects become beings. I love how this home greets me every time I open the door.”
Interior photos provided by Brian Reaume.
A Lustron home decorated in 1950s style is currently on display at the Ohio Historical Center.
At Home is a monthly column on Columbus Underground focused on urban home remodeling and style as well as older home renovations and unique homes in Columbus. If you would like to have your home featured in the At Home series, please send an email to me at Anne@columbusunderground.com.