I almost bought this house back in 2001 and am still kicking myself that the deal fell through. It’s located in the Wares Creek neighborhood of Bradenton, and it represents one of the oddest episodes in American architectural history.
The home is a Lustron house, and it may well be the last one in the area. They were all metal, pre-fab homes that were going to revolutionize post-war housing. With all the veterans returning, there was a serious housing shortage—and Carl Strandlund, the founder of the Lustron Company, thought he had the solution.
The homes were built in a converted airplane factory in Ohio and trucked to their final location. Each home had over 3,000 pieces and weighed about 12 tons. They took about a week to assemble. Everything was steel: the framing, the walls, even the roof tile. They were touted as maintenance-free. You didn’t paint them (the surfaces were enameled), you just got a hose and gave it a good washing. The cost? About $10,000.
Everything went wrong with Mr. Strandlund’s business plan and only 2,000 homes were built by the time the company folded in 1950. Today they are cult classics, with fans and groupies all over the world.
The house in Bradenton has been altered a little. An extra room has been added, giving it another 400 square feet. The addition is well-done and adds quite a bit to the livability of the home.
The house appears to be in exactly the same condition it was 20 years ago, which bodes well for its future. It needs tidying up both inside and out, but a renovation is very do-able. Practically all of the wonderful original details are still there. Check out the built-in dresser in the master bedroom and the cabinets in the kitchen. I’m not so sure about the New Orleans-style wrought-iron columns out front. They are definitely not original, but in a funny way, they add to this home’s wacky charm.
2201 15th Ave. W., Bradenton, is priced at $269,000. For more info, call Robert Louloudes of Starz Real Estate at (941) 567-6786.