Prefab Began in New Albany

LousivilleCourier-Journal states Bob Lane, executive director of the New Albany (Indiana) Historical Society says the first prefabricated house in the country came out of the Gunnison Housing Corporation in New Albany in 1936. Foster Gunnison, a lighting director from New York who was involved with the construction of Radio City Music Hall and the Empire State Building, chose New Albany because of it central location and began shipping the modular homes across the country. Following the big flood of 1937 that put Louisville, Kentucky and New Albany/Jeffersonville underwater, Gunnison supplied the New Albany Housing Authority with 20 modular homes, costing $59,790 total, which are still occupied to this day. US Steel bought a controlling interest in the company in 1940, and completed ownership when Gunnison retired in 1953. has learned Gunnison was called the “Henry Ford of Housing” by Forbes magazine because of his assembly line method of building, and by 1950 there were 14 different designs. Paul Graf, who caddied for him on the golf course says, “He wasn’t a very good golfer. He’d play with some engineers and the whole time they played they’d talk about how to make windows and things like that.”

(Photo credit: David Lutman/Courier-Journal–Gunnison House)

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