When NOVA photography student Joe Gossman found out that a Lustron home in Arlington may be torn down, he set out to capture a photo of it in all of its historic glory. Gossman’s goal for this project was to get an iconic photo of the home in an effort to, in a way, preserve it. To do this, he decided to step back in time and use old school photo processing techniques.
Gossman soon became enamored with the history of the home. He learned that, from 1948 to 1950, the all-steel homes were created by Lustron Corporation in a factory in Columbus, Ohio. The corporation went out of business after selling only 2,500 units, with 11 of those ending up in Arlington, Virginia. In early 2016, only three still remained in the area.
The Lustron home Gossman was interested in photographing was located on 7th Street South and was said to be in the best condition. He said he did some research and found that it may be torn down after having been a rental property for many years. He snapped a black and white photo of the home back in July 2016 and developed it in the dark room in the Photo Lab of the Tyler Building at NOVA-Alexandria.
“A house this size will get torn down and something will replace it that’s a lot bigger and will sell for a lot more money,” Gossman said.
The Lustron home was listed as free assuming the person interested would haul it away from the lot at 2915 7th St. South in Arlington. By November, however, no one had shown interest in the home and it was eventually torn down and cleared away – leaving only two Lustron homes in the Arlington area.
During his journey through the history of this Lustron home and to capture an iconic photo, Gossman began to share information with WJLA reporter Jay Korff, who also became interested in the history. Korff developed a story around the Lustron Corporation and the particular home Gossman photographed and followed the progress from mid-July until the home was torn down and removed. See video and read Korff’s story about the home and Gossman’s photo here.
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