Friday, May 22, 2015


In our previous post we mentioned the Lustron residences constructed in New Orleans in 1949-1950. O.J. Farnsworth, who owned the city's franchise, primarily built Westchesters, the most popular of the Lustron models. 
The majority of the New Orleans Westchesters were assembled in "surf blue," one of the four pastel colors available. Early surf blue Westchesters could be purchased with yellow window surrounds (shown above).
Lustron advertisements promoted the standard 1,000 square foot Westchester as five-room "decay-proof" "basementless" "ranch-style architecture" (plan above). In New Orleans, Farnsworth promoted his Lustrons as "the house eternal," co-opting the language of the Southern Cypress Manufacturers, whose product motto was "the wood eternal."

Late in 1948, Massachusetts architect Carl Koch -- who had stewarded the steel construction of Weiss, Dreyfous and Seiferth's Charity Hospital in 1938 -- presented the Lustron Corporation with a new model home. Koch advocated for a more versatile plan based on a 2' module set on a 50' lot. He recommended rectangular rooms over the Westchester's square configurations, larger window openings and roomier kitchens (shown below). His report featured dramatic black and white photographs of model subdivisions and interiors. Koch wanted the purchaser to be able to select the color scheme.
Koch's Lustron designs were never mass produced; the company's financial collapse doomed his 1950 model.

Images above:  Top Three:  "The Lustron Home: This is the house America is talking about." 1948. Advertisement.

Bottom Two:  Robert D. Harvey Studio, photographer. Lustron 1950 Model Homes: Second Stage Presentation. 1 November 1948. Belmont, MA: Carl Koch Architect and Associates, 1948. Architectural Trade Catalogs, Southeastern Architectural Archive, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries.

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