I lived at 705 East 4th street at the time the house was erected. I was the paper boy to everyone in the east end of town so I thought I had to see and know about everything that was going on.
The Catholic Church was on the corner of East Street and 4th. In the earlier years there was a Catholic School and living quarters on the corner of Hickory and 4th.
Sometime around 1948 0r 1949, they decided to build a new Rectory behind the church. It was decided to be a Lustron House. At that time Lustron produced and shipped all steel enameled houses.
The site was prepared and the parts and pieces arrived. A wrecker came to unload the steel parts. They stacked the steel parts and boxes of screws, bolts, etc., along the curb in front of the house. Each part was numbered and much time was spent as they sorted and found the right pieces. Each part had a certain screw or bolt for that section. I was allowed to pick up these things at the end of the day and wish I had saved some of them.
As the house took shape, it was easy to see that once the last screw was in place, it would be ready to live in. Everything was enameled in the color that had been chosen.
I don't remember how long it took them to finish but it did not seem very long. One thing that stands out now as I look back is the fact that there were no fancy electric or air tools as we know them today. Everything was screwed or bolted by hand.
There was some discussion among the workers about not having a back door because of concern for the Priest. Access to him was very limited outside of the Church. I will drop by the site to check this out once the ground dries up and the weather gets better.
This type of house was supposed to be the next best thing to sliced bread as far as technology was concerned. Not only was it pre-insulated, it was designed to last a long, long time. This is evidenced by the one we see off of Woodmont Drive. Even though the years of neglect are showing, I am sure it is in a lot better shape than a wood-frame house would be after all this time.
I don't know the whole story of the company but there are references to bad business decisions and other problems. There does not seem to be problems with the houses themselves. Can you imagine what your house would look like 60 years after it was built had it been neglected and not maintained?
Thanks to Mary for finding it and to everyone for providing the opportunity to tell about it as I remember. Also, thanks to everyone who loves Tuscumbia as much as I do for your interest in saving and preserving as much of our history as we can.
THIS WAS ONE TIME WHERE A meets B and Y met Z that everything came together.
Colbert County native Jim Smith is the author of Walk Through Town (with me as a ten year-old boy). It can be found on Amazon and at several local book stores. Link