ABOUT CIRCLING THE NEWS
Circling the News is an online newspaper dedicated to news on the Westside of Los Angeles, including Westchester, Venice, Brentwood, Marina del Rey and Pacific Palisades.
CTN also appeals to its Midwestern readers with a certain amount of common sense.
The newspaper also prints viewpoints on education, parenting and politics and tries to embody Will Rogers . . . . “Well, all I know is what I read in the papers.”
Sue Pascoe is the editor. She worked at the Palisadian-Post for about a decade before becoming editor of Post 283 News and then Palisades News. After a labor dispute, she left that publication and started writing this current entity.
Bill Bruns is CTN’s advisor. After earning a master’s degree in journalism from UCLA in 1965, Bill Bruns worked as an intern for Life magazine. Subsequently, he was hired as a staff writer and moved to New York City. He covered the 1972 Winter Olympics in Japan and the Summer Olympics in Munich. After Life stopped publishing the end of 1972, Bruns wrote freelance articles for People, Money and other magazines, as well as co-authoring 12 books on various subjects, including tennis, sports psychology, ski racing and stock-market investing. He then worked as Hollywood bureau chief for TV Guide from 1989 to 1992, before serving as editor of the Palisadian-Post from 1993 to 2013. He received a Spirit of the Palisades Award from the Community Council in 2014.
CTN is lucky to have several contributors such as Bernice Fox, Laurel Busby, Libby Motika and Bob Vickrey. We’re also fortunate to run Alan Eisenstock’s weekly musical column.
From the beginning, CTN has asked for donations, rather than run advertising. Without receiving advertising dollars, it meant that the stories should be “pure” with any bias from advertisers. To donate:
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It seems that every HOME page should have a story about a home:
The Lustron: Historic Pre-Fab Homes
Many of us would like a house that doesn’t require maintenance. Environmentally speaking, wouldn’t it be nice not to have to paint or to replace windows, roofs or shingles?
There isn’t home construction that accomplishes that —but there was at one time. It was the Lustron house made of porcelain-coated steel panels.
According to a 1949 Saturday Evening Post advertisement “Never before in America a House Like This,” the Lustron made maintenance a thing of the past. Other ads proclaimed the houses were fireproof, decay-proof, rustproof, termite-proof, vermin-proof and rat-proof.
In 2018, many of the Lustron homes (only 2,500 were built) still have original siding and roofs and feature interior built-in cabinets. My mom moved to one three years ago. When she turned 89, she moved from a four-bedroom, two-story house in Mission, South Dakota, to this one story house in Martin.
I fell in love with my mom’s “new” three-bedroom, 1,140 sq. ft. Lustron Westchester Deluxe, with a built-in vanity in the master bedroom.
Lustrons were a pre-fab house that came in three models: the Westchester, Newport and Meadowbrook and were available as two or three bedrooms. The exterior came in one of four colors: surf blue, dove gray, maize yellow and desert tan.
Interiors were designed for ease of cleaning and the metal-paneled interior walls were most often gray.
Carl Strandlunds came up with the idea of the home after World War II to address the housing shortage. The homes, which were constructed of 12 tons of steel and one ton of enamel, were prefabricated, ready-to-assemble and shipped in 3,000 pieces. The houses were mostly built on a slab, although some owners hired a structural engineer to put them over a basement.
Strandlunds opened a company in Columbus, Ohio, where the Lustron home could be mass produced, much like automobiles.
A typical Lustron has built-ins that account for about 20-percent of the total interior space. The rooms have pocket doors to eliminate space needed for a door swing. A utility room off the kitchen houses the hot-water and a hot-air furnace that heated the metal ceiling tiles, which then heated the whole house.
Strandlunds began production in 1948, with houses costing between $6,000-$10,000. To break even, 50 houses needed to be produced a day, but only 26 were coming off the assembly line.
According to Tom Fetters book, The Lustron Home, politicians questioned giving money to Strandlund, whose company failed to file required reports with federal lending agencies.
Two years later, the company came under foreclosure. Only 2,680 houses had been completed, with 8,000 unfilled orders outstanding and a $37.5 million debt to the federal government. Strandlund couldn’t find alternate financing to continue production.
Many believe that he fell victim to trade unions and the existing housing industry, who didn’t like the idea of a house that required no maintenance.
Even as Los Angeles residents, via HHH, are spending $800,000 for apartments for the homeless, this prefab home seems like a great deal.