- Standards for Preservation
- Standards for Rehabilitation
- Standards for Restoration
- Standards for Reconstruction.
The Standards aren’t technical (they won’t have information on how to repair your pocket doors) or prescriptive (you absolutely must repair your pocket doors this way) rather, they are intended to promote thoughtful and responsible preservation practices (if your pocket doors are original, they should be repaired and retained rather than replaced). In other words, the Standards don’t tell owners what exactly to do with their property; rather they give them an approach to figuring out how to make decisions about what needs to be done and how to do it in such a way that the historic integrity and character of the property is preserved. Truth be told, the preservation standards might seem rather dry at first, but they express important concepts that are worth the effort to understand. Still worried that a philosophical approach won’t help you repair your Lustron? Fear not, with each set of standards comes with a set of guidelines that offer practical advice for interpreting the Standards. To view the official guidelines click on the appropriate link: preservation, rehabilitation, restoration, and reconstruction. Even better, to help Lustron owners faced with challenging preservation, restoration, rehabilitation and recreation issues, we have adapted the Preservation Standards and relevant excerpts from the Preservation Guidelines to reflect the unique challenges of Lustron preservation. The Preservation treatment standards are appropriate for Lustrons when an owner wants to maintain a house that is in fair to excellent condition for ongoing use as a residence. If this is the case, you want to read read on.
What about the other standards?
The preservation standards and relevant excerpts from the guidelines are given below. Standards and guidelines for the other treatments are similar, but modified to address other circumstances.
1. A property will be used as it was historically, or be given a new use that maximizes the retention of distinctive materials, features, spaces, and spatial relationships. Where a treatment and use have not been identified, a property will be protected and, if necessary, stabilized until additional work may be undertaken.
In other words, Lustrons were designed to function as a single family home. Ideally, you should retain this use. If you intend to convert your Lustron, to let’s say a law office, you should do it in such a way so that the original room arrangement, built-in features, and original materials are retained.
2. The historic character of a property will be retained and preserved. The replacement of intact or repairable historic materials or alteration of features, spaces, and spatial relationships that characterize a property will be avoided.
According to the National Park Service, “every old building is unique, with its own identity and its own distinctive character. Character refers to all those visual aspects and physical features that comprise the appearance of every historic building. Character-defining elements include the overall shape of the building, its materials, craftsmanship, decorative details, interior spaces and features, as well as the various aspects of its site and environment.” In the case of Lustron, because the entire house was prefabricated, shipped from the factory and assembled on the site, arguably all the original elements are character defining features or elements, especially the roof and gutters, exterior and interior panels, built-ins, pocket doors and windows. So, you want to avoid replacing these elements if they are intact and can be repaired. For example, if your original windows are in poor shape, according to the standards, you want to repair the windows rather than replace them. For more information on window repair click here.
3. Each property will be recognized as a physical record of its time, place, and use. Work needed to stabilize, consolidate, and conserve existing historic materials and features will be physically and visually compatible, identifiable upon close inspection, and properly documented for future research.
Although all Lustrons were prefabricated, each Lustron is unique. Lustrons were owned by different families, built by different dealers, some were erected on large lots, some on small lots, some communities had lots of Lustrons, other communities have only one. Its unique history and qualities should be recognized.
4. Changes to a property that have acquired historic significance in their own right will be retained and preserved.
Many Lustrons featured breezeways, patios, awnings, enclosed porches and other features that were added at the time of construction or shortly after the Lustron was built. It is possible that these changes should be kept because they tell part of the story of your Lustron. For example, perhaps your Lustron has a breezeway that was added a few years after the home was built. It is in need of repair and you are considering removing it. Prior to going ahead with your plans, consider consulting with your state historic preservation office, or local historic preservation commission prior to moving forward. It is possible that your breezeway is an important component and character defining feature of your Lustron and should be repaired and retained. To view a list of SHPO websites, click here.
5. Distinctive materials, features, finishes, and construction techniques or examples of craftsmanship that characterize a property will be preserved.
The Lustron was made of porcelain enamel coated metal panels. These are a distinctive feature of the house, as are the metal roof tiles, the interior panels, and the built-in features such as the vanity in the bedroom. These character defining elements should be preserved. So, for example, covering the interior panels with wallpaper would obscure a character defining feature of the Lustron and would be discouraged.
6. The existing condition of historic features will be evaluated to determine the appropriate level of intervention needed. Where the severity of deterioration requires repair or limited replacement of a distinctive feature, the new material will match the old in composition, design, color, and texture.
Inspect your Lustron. What repairs are needed? What level of intervention is called for (preservation, restoration, rehabilitation, reconstruction). Let say your windows are in bad shape, first to learn more about Lustron windows and how they function, click here. To learn how to repair you windows click here. Can your windows be repaired? As stated in Preservation Brief 13: The Repair and Thermal Upgrading of Historic Steel Windows, “repair of historic windows is always preferred within a rehabilitation project. Replacement should be considered only as a last resort. However, when the extent of deterioration or the unavailability of replacement sections renders repair impossible, replacement of the entire window may be justified.” If the windows cannot be repaired, the new windows should look like the old windows, thus vinyl windows which have a different, design, color, and texture would not be appropriate. Replacement windows should match the originals as closely as possible in terms of the material, configuration, color, operability, number and size of panes, profile and proportion of metal sections, and reflective quality of the original glass.
7. Chemical or physical treatments, if appropriate, will be undertaken using the gentlest means possible. Treatments that cause damage to historic materials will not be used.
Translation: if your panels are dirty, use the gentlest means possible to clean them. If that doesn’t work, try the next gentlest means, and so on. For information on cleaning your panels, click here.
8. Archaeological resources will be protected and preserved in place. If such resources must be disturbed, mitigation measures will be undertaken.
If your Lustron is sitting on an archaeological site, don’t go digging around for artifacts. Instead, call your SHPO and report the existence of the site.
Now that you have met the Standards, click here to “meet” the Guidelines.