Sunday, March 20, 2011


As you may have read previously, I was at the Antiques Marketplace in Lemoyne this afternoon. The management there has just opened a large newly-finished section of the large building they occupy. I wandered through and took pictures of some of the wondrous things I saw. Here are a few of them:

This lady has always caught my attention. She's been here a long time. She used to sit proudly on the top shelf of this display (left), but today I found her stashed behind two other pictures, on the floor, leaning against an old dresser. My, how the mighty have fallen.

 This is either Susanne's dream farm table or someone's
soon-to-be merchandise rack.

 Three old cars and a boat are among the larger antiques.

 This MG has a price tag of $39,995.00 -- firm!

 I think this is an Alfa-Romeo, but I'm no expert.

I have always liked the chinaware with this motif, 
a little cottage and some trees.


Around 2:45 p.m., I left the Marketplace and headed east toward Colonial Park. The Box purred as we joined the traffic flowing across the Susquehanna on I-83. At the famous Eisenhower Interchange, we took the far left lane, staying on I-83 toward I-81. At the Union Deposit Road exit, I steered with agility into the exit lane, rounded the ramp, and headed east toward Fairmont Avenue. Turning there, I eventually ended up on Devonshire Road, just where I wanted to be.

Yesterday I saw an ad for a very special house for sale. It was made in a factory by the Lustron Corporation. Here is what Wikipedia says about these houses:

In January 1947, the newly formed Lustron Corporation announced that it had received a $12.5-million Reconstruction Finance Corporation loan to manufacture mass-produced prefabricated homes that featured enamel-coated steel panels. Led by Chicago industrialist and inventor Carl Strandlund, who had worked with constructing prefabricated gas stations, Lustron offered a home that would "defy weather, wear, and time."

Strandlund's Lustron Corporation, a division of the Chicago Vitreous Enamel Corporation, set out to construct 15,000 homes in 1947 and 30,000 in 1948. From its plant in Columbus, Ohio, the corporation eventually constructed around 3,000 Lustron homes between 1948 and 1950. The houses sold for between $8,500 and $9,500, according to a March 1949 article in the Columbus Dispatch—about 25 percent less than comparable conventional housing. By November 1949, however, a Lustron's average selling price had come up to $10,500. [The house today was priced at $144,900. Too high, I think!]

Most of the known Lustron houses were constructed in 36 of the United States including Alaska. However, some were constructed in Venezuela, South America for families of oil industry employees.
Billed as a way to maximize pleasure and minimize work, Lustron advertising contended that the Lustron home would create a "new and richer experience for the entire family," where "Mother . . . has far more hours," the "youngsters . . . have fewer worries," and there would be "far more leisure for Dad.” How this would be accomplished with just a choice of housing was not clarified.

Maybe it is this advertising jargon that first caught my eye when I was younger, because I have always been attracted to the idea of a house like this. The first time I spotted one, it reminded me of a house made from windowless oven doors. In fact, that is not so far off!

Well, in all the years I have been aware of the Lustron house, I have never been in one or seen one offered for sale. Today I hit the jackpot. 

Upon arriving, an older couple was in the house with the agent. I was greeted by his "assistant" and began to look around in the kitchen. Brent, the agent, soon joined me in looking at what appeared to be the only thing not original in the house -- some wooden kitchen cabinets.

As we continued to chat, I learned that Brent lived in Linglestown, too. In fact, he had been in Susanne's home room! He recognized her name instantly. His assistant, who turned out to be his fiancée, could not place Susanne until I showed them her most recent school photo. She recognized her but said that she had some other math teacher.

Anyway, the house is for sale, is pretty much in original condition, and it was fun to look around. Someone was renting the house at the moment, so perhaps the furnishings were not in keeping like they might be -- late 40s and early 50s stuff right out of Atomic Warehouse on Market Street! This would be the perfect house for that type of furniture and decorations.

If you know anyone looking for a small vintage house, one of a small number of steadily-disappearing unique all metal homes, check out this website. In the meantime, here is a floor plan of this model and some of the pictures I took. This is a cool little house -- just overlook the furnishings!


 Brent, the sales agent from Linglestown

The living room, with its out-of-place desk.

 The other wall in the living room.

The dining room.

The kitchen with the original
shelves and pass-through.

 Cool original lighting fixture in kitchen.

The utility area with heating unit and
washer/dryer (not visible).


Bath again.

Back bedroom.

Back bedroom closet.

Looking across hall to front bedroom.

Closets and built-in dresser in front bedroom.

Closet in front bedroom.

Front of the house. Or is the entrance on the side?

The rear has a nice deck.

Saturday, March 19, 2011


A vintage cabinet rides home in the Box.
Can you believe it? The Box has done something interesting for three days in a row! Actually, we all do interesting things every day. We just don't look around enough or view what we do as special!

Well, today was made special by my second visit to see Steve Zeigler, a friend of one of the guys who built our back porch, who works in a landscaping business and on the side operates a company called "Architecturally Speaking." Steve is a graduate of Central Dauphin schools, but Susanne did not have the pleasure of his company in her classroom, as he went to the one of the "other" junior highs.

Steve Zeigler, picker
Steve saves bits and pieces, large and small, from buildings that are being demolished. He has a warehouse and stockyard full of stuff in Colonial Park and has a retail outlet in the Antiques Marketplace at 415 Bosler Avenue in Lemoyne. It's a small space but loaded with interesting items to use in your house and garden.We went to the warehouse today by making an appointment.

I had been considering an antique pedestal sink for our bathroom make-over, but most of them are way too short for me. People must have knelt in front of them in the 20s and 30s, or else the ones Steve has come across were made for pygmies. At any rate, I had to pass that by, but there was a great old wooden medicine cabinet that would add storage on the wall to the left of the vanity. It's got a nice white antiqued appearance now, but I will probably decide to paint it black, like I am going to paint the vanity. Today in a home center, I saw a new medicine cabinet made out of pressed board at more than two and a half times the price! And my re-cycled cabinet fit just right into the back of the Box.

    Schoolhouse light   
Searching online, I found a ceiling fixture reminiscent of what you'd see in an old school room, but on a much smaller scale. Today, Steve had one just the right size and shape, and just needing some new wiring. All for twenty bucks, not the $150 or so on the website. All I have to do it clean it up and paint the fixture part and wash the white glass globe.

Click to enlarge and
look closely.
I'll tell you, there was plenty more there that was tempting. We saw bird houses Steve made out of old barn wood and decorated with old car parts, door bells, and goodies; candlesticks and mirrors made from auto gears; wooden columns, iron fences, vintage signs, shutters, pews and other religious items.

I took a lot of pictures because I plan to contact a regional news magazine and offer them an article on Steve and his great stuff. I'll post some of them here.

If you ever need something interesting or funky, something old you'd like to rescue, or something you'd want to incorporate into your home, you should stop at "Architecturally Speaking" at the Antiques Marketplace or call Steve and ask if he has what you want. He can also keep an eye out for you when he is out "picking."

Stephen Zeigler

 Candlesticks made from gear parts.

A mirror made from a pipe mold.
(or sumpthin' like that).

Steve shows Susanne some tin
decoration from a building façade
that he makes into wall decorations.

Columns and stained glass =
instant church!

Your own cloister!

His and her wheelchairs. Hmm,
maybe we should buy ahead.

Wait until I show up with this at the 
worship committee meeting at the
Presbyterian church. It's a taberbacle
for reserving the transubstantiated host.

A cast iron and bronze fireplace from
downtown Harrisburg. It's diminutive
and really in great shape.

A neat old low wagon from a factory. 
People use them as coffee tables.

Columns, posts, and bathtubs galore.

Iron fences and gates abound. Garden art!

I love the green color on these quarter-moon
shutters. I saw others today with the traditional
candlestick cut-out. 

Sunday, March 20
The Box got primo parking.

Today after church, my sister Rachel and I went over to the West Shore for a quick bite at the home of the Whopper. Mostly we wanted to see if the cashier could charge us correctly this time for a simple hamburger from the dollar menu. I even laid a finger on the menu hanging on the wall beside the register with the item and its price. Neither Rachel or I got the correct price the first time. I finally suggested to the young man that he have the supervisor clear the order and start over.

Anyway, immediately after our noontime repast, we high-tailed it down the street to the Antiques Marketplace mentioned above in yesterday's entry. You know me, ever since I wrote that entry, I have been wishing I had a photo of "Architecturally Speaking." So, since the church is just across the river, I figured it was the most economical time to stop.

I want this chandelier!
Rachel and I were ogling yet more treasures when in walked Steve Zeigler with his cart full of goodies, including several highlighted above. So instead of one photo to represent his shop, I offer here several, starring Steve, Rachel, and me! 

Several vendors and customers came in right behind Steve, drawn like bees to honey, but he continued moving and re-arranging the whole time. When I left the building (please, don't call me Elvis), I stopped to see how he was doing. He was doing very well, indeed.

Welcome to "Architecturally Speaking."
"Is there room for this?" Steve asks.

"I think it would fit over here," Rachel replies.

 "No, no, this is a much better spot,"
John insists.

Friday, March 18, 2011


The Box surveys the rubble of the school.
Although I really do not know where Progress begins and ends, I was there today to take some pictures of the former Progress Elementary School of the Susquehanna Township School District. This was at the prompting of another former PHMC friend, Jesse, who, when he was executive director of the Luzerne County Historical Society, would dispatch a volunteer photographer to take recordation photos of buildings doomed to demolition. Jesse and I worked at the PHMC together over 10 years ago. He is not an Executive-in-Exile, nor is he a world-class grandma.

Jungle gym, anyone?
Jesse lives in the area of the school and noticed the goings-on, but by the time I got there, a good portion of the building was a pile of rubble. An older woman was walking the perimeter taking photos, too, and another woman in a car stopped beside me to talk. She just wanted (needed?) to tell me that her son had gone to that school and that she was going to ask for a brick to keep as a souvenir.

There was an unlatched gate in the fence, and since no one appeared to be on-site and wrecking anything, I slipped inside (as much as a person my size can "slip") and walked to the playground area in front of the school to take some photos there. The front façade was still standing, and I could see clearly into the two front classrooms in the basement and on the first floor. I wondered how many kids I knew when I taught at the high school had sat here on the first day of school in their new togs, waiting to be enlightened.

The façade was pretty restrained in decoration, but there were two big columns flanking the front door, and a keystone embedded in the brick over the door. I hope the township keeps that keystone as a souvenir.

You'd think the school district could have found another use for that building. Next door stands the former high school, now in use as a commercial building. It's been proven time and time again that people are drawn to historic buildings and districts, so why not try to preserve and re-use them? Once they are all gone, we will have to travel to re-creations like Disney World's Village Square.

Storybook house across the street.
As long as I was in this mystical place called "Progress" (pronounced PRO-gress as it PRO sports, mind you), I decided to take a circuitous route home and take some pictures of some houses that I always found attractive. I am sort of a nut on residential architecture, of the both low-class and high-class sorts. More importantly, these places are associated with times and people who were special to me. The private homes still look great, but I think the rental units are fading beauties. You'll see what I mean below.

On the way home, I was feeling listless and sort of faint, so I decided that instead of a costly medical procedure, I would stop for gas and get a shock to start my system. It worked!

 The back portion of the school bites the dust.

The even older former High School still stands
next door, in use as an office building.

Our friends Joan and Carl lived here for many years.

Carl's a photographer -- I knew he'd
like the shadow cast by his old

Friends Marcia and Gobie lived here until they 
answered the call of the West Shore.

This farm house, further down the road from the
previous two houses, always attracted me. I had
at least one of the kids in school. She became a
doctor, no thanks to me.

 This is the apartment building where we lived for ten
years before moving to the green house in Lingles-
 town. There were four of us in two bedrooms and
one bathroom, but it was a nice place to be. We
called it "Mumperville" after the builder/owner. 

These last three photos were taken in Colonial Park, not Progress.

My sister Rachel lived here on Trent Road in 
Mumperville East, just off Route 22.

Here's what shocked me back into
a normal heart rhythm.