State historians may just now be giving Lustron homes notice, but Stillwater’s two Lustrons have received attention since they were installed.

Preservation Oklahoma recently announced its 2008 list of Oklahoma’s most endangered historic places and this year’s list included an endangered concept — the Lustron home. The pre-manufactured, all-steel homes are now considered “threatened” by state historians.

Stillwater is home to two Lustron homes — 915 W. Eighth and 2119 W. Sherwood. K Cohlmia is the owner of the Sherwood Lustron and said when he purchased the home, “We were just looking for a rental property.”

He said the real estate agent sold them on the house as being maintenance-free due to its construction. He said he didn’t know of the significance of the house when it was purchased in 1982, but questions began to come in the early 1990s.

Over the last five years the home has become well-known, and more so in the last week with the Oklahoma Historical Society contacting Cohlmia about having the home listed and documented. “We always knew it was different,” he said.

Stillwater’s Lustrons may be a secret to some but have been well documented throughout their history. An article was published in the NewsPress in December 1980, documenting the two homes and highlighting their historic value.

“Pair of all-steel homes praised by residents” was the headline of the article that notes the homes being brought to Stillwater following a 1950 order to the Wichita Lustron dealer by Arthur Scroggs. Scroggs is remembered as owner of the Grand Hotel that formerly occupied a corner of Sixth and Main.

Ray H. Burley authored the article and noted many people at that time had taken an interest in the homes and acknowledged them as something special.

The original price was intended to be $6,500 but was raised to $10,500. That price got delivery and installation 3,300 pieces of steel totaling 10,000 pounds.

Only 2,500 Lustrons were manufactured before the Lustron Corp., went out of business and each took approximately three days to install.

Cohlmia said he has maintained the Sherwood home as a rental and plans to continue doing so.

Over the last 20 years, veterinary students have accounted for the bulk of his renters.

Some remodeling has been done over the years. While the interior and exterior walls are covered in a porcelain enamel, metal parts on the inside of the house are not and prone to rust.

He said rusted pocket doors were replaced with wood and the same went for other sliding doors in the home. The major work to the home has been remodeling of the kitchen.

Cabinet and counter space was added and Cohlmia said all has been done to modernize the kitchen.

Central heat and air also were added to replace the elevated gas furnace. Cohlmia described the furnace as “unbelievable,” and said, “It was like a small engine with pipes running out,” to heat the house.

The Eight Avenue Lustron is not noted as having maintenance performed on it. The Sewell family was the second owner and occupant of the house, where they stayed until the mid 1960s, and Pat Schaur remembers the time spent there with her family and the unique house.

“Not a single piece of maintenance has been performed on that house,” Schaur said.

“At the time it was a very exciting design.”

She said the options for the home included a washing machine for clothes and dishes, as well as a food processor.

She recalled people being amazed at watching the house go up and said the homes are sought after by collectors in other areas of the county. “It’s obviously a house whose time has passed.”

There is a difference between the two Lustrons. The Sherwood home has a matching detached garage. Unlike the Lustron home, the garage has a wood frame. According to Burley, the garage was not thought to be a product of the Lustron factory. The Wichita dealer was thought to have provided enough extra porcelain enamel wall squares and other parts to be fastened to a hand built wood frame.

The Sheerar Museum has featured the Lustron home in a display titled “Life in the ’50s.” Museum curator Barbara Dunn said she would like to see Stillwater enact a historical preservation ordinance. “I’m glad they (Oklahoma Historical Society) threw them in,” she said.

She said Lustron owners need to know their properties have value. She also said the houses were something that young people would like to live in.

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