Coleman House (Lustron)

408 Mead

Newton, KS 67114

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The Coleman House is Newton's only Lustron home. Constructed entirely from porcelain-enameled aluminum tiles, it was intended to offer a quick and easy solution to the housing shortage following World War II. The return of more than 12 million U. S. troops following the end of World War II combined with the previous years of depress, strained the housing supplies in the United States. In response, the federal government created the Reconstruction Finance Corporation (RFC) to offer funding and develop creative solutions to the problem. Carl Strandlund, businessman and inventor, provided one such solution in the way of prefabricated steel homes. With $12.5 million in federal loans (which ultimately totaled more than $35 million), Standlund created the Lustron Corporation, starting production in Columbus, Ohio, at an abandoned airplane factory. He promised to manufacture 100 homes a day on an assembly line, like that of the automobile industry. The first home rolled off the line in March 1948. A Lustron home is constructed entirely of steel panels coated with baked-on porcelain enamel. Models came in two- and three-bedroom floor plans that ranged from 713 to 1140 square feet and were available in four colors: Surf Blue, Dove Gray, Maize Yellow and Desert Tan. Costing anywhere from $7,000 to $10,000 (not including lot and foundation) the home would arrive on-site ready to assemble, which was reported to require no more than a rubber mallet, screwdriver and a wrench. With their durable construction, the homes were advertised as fireproof, decay proof, rust proof, termite proof, vermin proof and rat proof. They were also designed to be efficient in storage space, with built-ins accounting for 20 percent of the interior, including a bookcase in the living room, buffet with pass-through in the dining room and a vanity with overhead storage in the master bedroom. Radiant heat was supposed to warm the house by heating the ceiling tiles. However, as heat rises, this did not perform as intended and many owners installed standard heating systems with duct work.

 

Money troubles plagued the Lustron Corporation, and Strandlund was never able to manufacture more than 26 homes per day. A minimum of 50 per day was needed to break even, and this was still far from the 100 promised. It was in 1950 that the company declared bankruptcy and the age of the Lustron ended with just over 2,500 homes produced. The Coleman House was built by Jean Coleman, son-in-law to M. R. Stauffer, the local Lustron dealer. It is a two-bedroom Westchester Deluxe model in Dove Gray

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