Knoxville Modern Lustron Home Extraordinaire

Check out the Sputnik mailbox!

On Wednesday I happened to be in the hospital emergency room and browsed the local Knoxville Magazine and they had this article on a great house in town. It was a teaser and did not give the address.

Saturday, we were out hitting some garage sales and turned down the street and I immediately spotted a thick growth of bamboo. We slowed. Then I saw more house and we were both oohing. Then I saw the modern beams on the side of the house from the pictures and I knew I’d stumbled upon the house!

imgp2973.jpgIt was an original Lustron home from 1948. There are 3 of these in Knoxville that I know of today. This one I did not know about. The problem today with these homes is that they are just too small by our standards. Gary solved this by very artfully adding on to his Lustron. The whole property is incredible and he carried the atomic theme even to his mailbox, which is a stainless steel Sputnik design

imgp3008.jpgIt is such a pleasure to just know this place is here in town. There are some drop dead gorgeaous modern homes near there. They are in a very upscale neighborhood and are classic and will remain for ages. This one is just over the top Mod.

You know I will be slipping an invitation in his mailbox to my next luau!







This is the parking area behind the house. Love the gates!


This is an addition behind the house. Perfectly matching!


The metal wings on the side are a great touch and mimic the vintage building that is now Belleza Salon.


From the front you see the original small Lustron home.


13 Replies to “Knoxville Modern Lustron Home Extraordinaire”

  1. Hey Swanky: I caught your blurb via my google alert set to “Lustron” — thanks for sharing your enthusiasm & interest in these great homes.

    I’m a Lustron owner in western Massachusetts & an active member of the online Lustron community. Also working with the National Trust & various other local groups committed to preserving Lustrons around the country. (Check out latest issue of Preservation Magazine.)

    For a great overview of Lustron’s intriguing history, take a look at the recent documentary [or better yet, buy a non-bootleg copy]; there are also two excellent books on the subject, one by Thomas T. Fetters and one by Douglas Knerr.

    You point out Lustron’s small size as a problem. Maybe so — they tend to clutter easily, esp. in the hands of inveterate pack-rats & vintage collectors. But in my attempts to spin the benefits of Lustron ownership, esp. to those who would take up the challenge of preserving these historic gems, I’ve been touting the “small is beautiful”, energy-saving, anti-McMansion, etc. line.

    Plus, if the lot is a decent size, and esp. if there’s convenient space created in conjunction with a matching (though wood-framed) Lustron garage (as we have), I’m inclined to suggest creating outdoor “rooms”; patio space; etc. Rather than attempting to build on to a Lustron, a step that invariably destroys some of the original design & orientation, and possibly invites structural and/or component damage at the intersection of original & added materials.

    As I’m quoted in the Preservation article, Lustron preservation is a tricky but ultimately rewarding endeavor. Balancing owner prerogatives with historical integrity; developing effective “best practices” for restoration; trying to muster last-minute volunteers to save/salvage Lustrons threatened with demolition; encouraging stodgy local historical societies to recognize Lustron’s key historical & architectural significance; fantasizing about getting a huge, ongoing grant to fund a national salvaged parts warehouse/distribution system; etc.

    Lustron homes have a unique & challenging place in current historic preservation efforts: unlike the focus of so many HP activities, they are multiple units spread across c. 35 states (as opposed to singular buildings); residential (hence subject to a myriad of owner preferences, various alterations, and not generally qualified for most institutional preservation funding); relatively low-value, economically speaking (thus sometimes difficult to encourage owners to invest in restoration, though much of this can be DIY). Lustrons might not have the same cache as Wright-inspired Usionians or West Coast case study houses, but their ownership/preservation is perhaps the most grass-roots of any modernist-oriented historical preservation effort out there today.

    The main threat to Lustrons remains real estate development, reacting to the fact that the land on which they’re sited is often more “valuable” than the houses themselves. All the more reason for active public education & advocacy about these humble but nifty homes, their engaging background story, and the ongoing search for sympathetic new owers to join the effort to save these metal marvels for posterity.

  2. Hmm. Didn’t know there was a Lustron garage. Maybe that is what he has. The attached structure has a wood look and is colored to match the teal Lustron. Hard to see much about it from the street.

    I am trying to track down the magazine so I can add more pictures or go by the house again.

  3. I’ve been a fan of Lustron homes for years. There is one on Fairmont Boulevard in North Knoxville. It’s across the street from Arlington Baptist Church. You would never know it if you didn’t look closely. The bastards who own it covered it in stucco and added some weird details. You can still see the steel roof though. It’s a shame what they’ve done.

  4. Wow. We walked over there not too long ago to find it and decided it must have been destroyed for the church parking lot. They must have really changed it!

  5. I like the sound of this modified Lustron in Knoxville.
    http://WWW.Lustron Connection .ORG features an online picture exhibit of various Lustron homes. (And stories when available). The photos of the Knoxville Lustron would be an interesting addition if the owner or friends want to send photos of it. The site has an easy method for submitting photos.

    Thanks, -Rick

  6. hello,
    i bought a lustron home in columbus about a year ago. i am looking for ideas and maybe some direction in how to handle repairs/improvements that i need and want to do. especially the windows and gutters. if you want to get in contact with me that would be great.
    thank you,

  7. My husband just bought a Lustron home in our small town of 11,000 people. There are 3 here all right together on the same road, just south of the town, in a country setting. The yards are large and I would say the land is more valuable than the house. Over 1 acre lots. The one we have has a breeze way added on from the home to the 3 car garage. Off the garages is another addition with a family type room and another bath. It has much of the original features such as closets and some of the original kitchen cupboards, all the inside wall panels are still there and we did find the serial number on it, original windows, no holes in the walls, furnace changed to wall base board electric heat. We have done a lot of research to see the best way to add on to the home. We don’t find much help on that though. We are drawing up an addition for a 20 x 30 add on to the back of the original home for a new master bedroom and bath. We welcome any comments or suggestions anyone has to help us. We will be getting the home ready for our daughter and son inlaw and grandson to move into very soon, they will have a new baby coming in October and we hope to be done with the remodel before then. We live in North West Ohio and there are not a lot of them here.

  8. Hi Everyone! I am a Lustron home owner in Pennsylvania. My home needs some new parts on the sliding metal doors to the bedrooms. Does anyone know where I can get any?

  9. I’m a newcomer to the website. Moved from K-Patch to upstate NY (under protest) in 2003. We have a couple of Lustron homes in the area and what looks like an almost completely unmodified on just down the road. Very cool stuff.

    Doctor Bill

  10. There were 7 Lustrons in Knoxville at one time, (or maybe more).

    Five remain with the stucco house at 1823 Fairmont just off Broadway north of the I-40 interstate; two south of town off Chapman Road at 222 Chamberlain and 3519 Glenhurst within a block of each other; and one at 2020 Woodson, [All of these four are not the Blue of the subject house.]

    The subject seems to be the BLUE Lustron at 1043 Cedar Hill Road west of downtown and in a loop of the Tennessee River. When surveyed some 8 years ago, it was not modified as seen in this story.

    The two missing (razed) houses WERE at 1106 Bearden Drive at an Interstate exit ramp and at Emoriland Blvd just a block east of Broadway and a block north of the stucco house on Fairmount.

    Lustron’s December 1949 survey reported 6 in town, so the 7 is probably the final count after 1950.

    I would like to get the addresses of the respondents houses. especially the serial number as I am the only one listing by number. None of the Knoxville houses have a number listed so far.

    I need address, number of bedrooms [2 or 3] , basic exterior color, serial number, garage or breezeway or other feature.

    The Lustrons in Bristol, VA, TN are being recorded this weekend and the recorder is headed to Knoxville on Monday. This is an independent survey and I provided addresses to him.


    Tom Fetters
    “The Lustron Home”

  11. As to Northwest Ohio, I list Lustrons in:
    Toledo with 32,
    Perrysburg with 1,
    Napoleon with 1,
    Bryan with 1,
    Defense with 10, but only 1 found,
    Findlay with 3,
    Van Wert with three on State Route 118 [Likely the respondents location]
    Lima with 30 in 1949 [but only 8 found and recorded],
    Spencerville with two and both with garages,
    St Marys with 2 and both found,
    as all being in northwest Ohio.

    Of the 3 in Van Wert, there is a Gray 03 with #1731; another gray and a tan 02. No street numbers are known.

    Tom Fetters
    “The Lustron Home”

  12. I did a photography project on people living in Lustron Homes that has been exhibited in Louisville and Columbus OH. The frames were made by Cherokee Porcelain in Knoxville and are of the same porcelain enamel steel used to build the houses. Trillium Books, an imprint of The Ohio State University Press published the book Lustron Stories. It is available from the press or on Amazon.


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.