5201 12th Street, South (Lustron House), Arlington, Arlington County, VA
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Significance: Conceived, promoted, and manufactured by the Lustron Corporation out of Ohio and built only for a short time, between 1948 and 1950, in the United States, Lustron houses were one answer to the post-war housing shortage. Lustrons were intended to be affordable and to elevate the standard of living for middle-class American families. Advertisements pitched the duality of porcelain-enameled steel structures, with the "beauty of porcelain" meeting the "strength of steel." They came in four colors (examples of each were in Arlington: dove grey, surf blue, maize yellow, and desert tan), and featured open floor plans with built-in cabinetry and appliances. The houses were priced below $10,000, a cost comparable to conventionally-built dwellings at the time.
One of eleven Lustrons built in Arlington County in 1949 (this one's building permit dates to May 4, 1949), the dove grey Lustron has a factory serial number of 549 and was erected by Construction Associates, Inc. All eleven of Arlington's Lustrons were the Westchester Deluxe 02 model which featured two bedrooms and a single bathroom. Living space was confined to 1085 square feet, but was maximized by various built-ins and storage units. The house was donated to the county, and preservationists dismantled the Lustron - working backwards through the company's assembly manual - to move it to another site. It currently is in storage awaiting re-construction.
Survey number: HABS VA-1414
Building/structure dates: 1949 Initial Construction
Building/structure dates: 2006 Demolished