Suburban Steel

Knerr, Douglas. Suburban Steel: The Magnificent Failure of the Lustron Corporation, 1945-1951. Columbus: The Ohio State University Press, 2004.

The future of housing could have been centered in Ohio. For a brief period between 1947 and 1951, a public-private cooperation in building steel enameled houses for working and middle classes existed in the incorporation of Lustron. As almost all of the funding came from the public sector, the whole enterprise was highly contentious and the ‘socialism’ word was thrown around. Douglas Knerr tells the political story of Lustron in Suburban Steel.

Suburban Steel was originally a dissertation and, not unsurprisingly, it reads very much like a dissertation for the first two chapters, which mainly cover the background for the need for Lustron. Knerr follows threads of the brief history of prefabricated homes, the federal governments previous involvement in housing, and finally, the housing ‘crisis’ of early post-war years. All very academic, and if you are researching on of these topics, I would definitely recommend checking out the notes for the first couple chapters.

Luckily, for the casual reader like myself, Suburban Steel reads much more like a narrative of the rise and fall of the Lustron Corporation from Chapter 3 point onward. Continue reading