Discover Our Shared Heritage Travel Itinerary
Pierre and Fort Pierre, South Dakota

Peter Hansen House

Peter Hansen House
Peter Hansen House
Pierre Historic Preservation Commission & BPro Inc

The Peter Hansen House is a two-bedroom Westchester Deluxe model Lustron house built in 1949. The house is one of two Lustron homes in Pierre and 38 in South Dakota.  Lustrons are made of steel and are significant illustrations of the types of homes built in the United States to meet the housing shortage after World War II. The steel house is 31’ by 35’ set on a concrete slab foundation.  The exterior is clad in 2’ by 2’ gray porcelain-enameled steel panels. The bottom row of panels and the entry have been painted brown.
Toward the end of World War II, the United States experienced a shortage of housing for the influx of returning soldiers and their new families. An estimated need for 15 million new homes led the Federal Government to subsidize a number of companies to produce prefabricated homes. The Lustron Corporation was the most heavily capitalized and industrialized.

Carl Strandlund founded the Lustron Corporation in hopes of building enameled steel gas stations but quickly converted his idea to apply to the housing needs.  After receiving a loan from the Federal Government chartered Reconstruction Finance Corporation, the Lustron Corporation began constructing prefabricated houses in an adapted aircraft plant in Columbus, Ohio.  

The Lustron home came in three models: the Westchester (standard or deluxe, which was the most popular model), the Newport, and Meadowbrook. All exterior and interior surfaces of the houses and garages were made of enameled steel, which made them durable and easy to maintain while giving them a sleek, modern look. A ceiling radiant system heated the homes. Built-in features in the Westchester Deluxe model included storage units, a master bedroom vanity, a china cabinet with a pass through from the kitchen, a combination dish and clothes washer, and a bay window. Prefabrication and construction methods the company developed made it possible to build a Lustron house in one to three weeks.
In the end, however, the company faced a scarcity of materials; the funding ran short, and the factory was slow to start up leaving many orders unfilled.  In addition, the company did not develop an effective distribution system.  Pressure from lumber and concrete companies fearful of losing business to all-steel housing made it difficult to find funding and acceptance. The company only constructed about 2,500 houses total before it declared bankruptcy in 1950.

The post-war housing shortage in Pierre was exacerbated by construction of the Oahe Dam, one of four Pick-Sloan Plan dams constructed in South Dakota after the war that were part of the Pick-Sloan Missouri Basin Program to conserve, control, and use water resources in the Missouri Basin.   An influx of workers between 1948 and 1953 increased Pierre’s population from 5,000 to 10,000. This growth created a need for housing and brought a sudden prosperity to Pierre’s businesses and industries. Pierre’s two Lustron houses date from this time.

Plan your visit

The Peter Hansen House is located at 1123 East Capitol Ave. in Pierre. It is a private residence and is not open to the public.

Next page
Comments or Questions

Itinerary Home | List of sites | Maps | Learn More | Credits | Other Itineraries | NR Home | Search