The Armco-Ferro House: A house made of steel

The Armco-Ferro House

by Leah Konicki

A House Made of Steel (with Ohio Connections)

Armco-Ferro House

The Armco Ferro House sits on a bluff overlooking Lake Michigan. The house retains its original steel casement windows and roof deck.

The Armco-Ferro House was jointly sponsored by the American Rolling Company, better known as Armco, from Middletown, Ohio, and the Ferro Enamel Corporation of Cleveland. The companies collaborated to present a demonstration house promoting steel as a residential building material. The all-steel two-story house was constructed of porcelain-enamel steel panels on the exterior, which were bolted together without a framework. Despite the innovative use of steel as a material, the house appears very traditional, resembling the American Four Square house type built throughout the U.S. in the early decades of the twentieth century. The house has a flat roof; a porch was added in the second year of the fair, while the garage was converted to living space. Restoration on the house was begun in 1997, with the work completed in 2011.

The Armco-Ferro House was one of three steel houses to be featured in the Century of Progress Houses of Tomorrow exhibit. During the exhibit, the house featured wallpapers by Mayflower on the interior, which generated as much, if not more, interest than the all steel construction.

Around the time of the fair, the Hobart Manufacturing Company in Troy, Ohio, was also experimenting with pre-fabricated steel houses, branded as Hobart Welded Steel Houses. Perhaps the best-known all steel house is the Lustron, manufactured by the Lustron Corporation of Columbus, Ohio. In the years following World War II, the company had some limited success with porcelain-enamel steel panel houses that utilized a similar construction technique to the Armco-Ferro House.

Armco-Ferro House

Postcard from the 1933-1934 Century of Progress World’s Fair. (Image courtesy of Midpointe Library System)

The introduction to this series is located here.

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