Lusk Corporation: Building Mid Century Modern homes for the masses – 1950-1966
The Lusk Corporation, founded in 1950, was a Tucson-based developer/home-building company that was responsible for developing many unique, mid-century modern neighborhoods in Tucson. Although started in Arizona, the Lusk Corporation eventually developed neighborhoods in many states including Nevada, Texas, Indiana, Missouri, California, New Mexico, Illinois, and New York. Lusk Corporation became the 5th largest home builder in the nation during the 1950s. Lusk Corporation was the only builder to win the National Associations of Home Builder’s Award of Merit for 5 consecutive years starting in 1954, four of those awards were for Tucson projects.
Robert F. Lusk, Jr. (1923-1995) who founded the corporation earned an engineering degree from Rice University and a MBA from Harvard Business School, before starting the construction company at 26 years old. The company was responsible for all phases of development including planning, platting, design, construction, and sales. Building design work was lead by Arthur H. Rader (1954-1957) and Ray Kruger (1958-1962).
The Lusk Corporation can be divided into two distinct phases. The first phase was 1950-1958 where their projects were typically smaller scale developments which emphasized quality of the details, materials, and finishes. These projects featured innovative modern designs which were mostly in Tucson and received numerous awards. The second phase of the Lusk Corporation was from 1959-1966 in which the company experienced rapid growth and worked on larger developments, building on smaller lots and featured more mass production. Many of their projects in this time period were outside of Arizona.
The Lusk Corporation eventually had to shut down in 1966 due to a slowdown in demand for housing, capital being stretched too thin, a failed merger, and too much debt. Robert Lusk eventually moved to New York and was appointed by President Carter in 1979 to the Advisory Committee for the JFK Center for Performing Arts.
Which Lusk neighborhood suits you best?
Here is a list of all the Lusk Corporation subdivisions in the Tucson area. Click the links below to see what houses are currently for sale in each community.
1950 Colonia Allegre – Lusk Corporation’s first fully developed subdivision is just southeast of Broadway Blvd. and Columbus Blvd. Featuring ranch style brick homes on long curving streets. Colonia Allegre features these TUSD schools: Lineweaver Elementary, Vail Middle, and Rincon High.
1952 Highland Vista – This neighborhood is just northwest of Broadway Blvd. and Craycroft Road. Highland Vista departed from earlier Lusk developments by offering more amenities such as a community pool and park. Today the pool is as popular as ever for parties and even has a local swim team. There is also now a community garden in the neighborhood. This project won the prestigious Merit Award from the National Association of Home Builders. Highland Vista is serviced by these TUSD schools: Sewell Elementary, Vail Middle, and Rincon High.
1954 Villa Serena – Northeast of Pima St. and Sahuara Ave. The Villa Serena neighborhood had less expensive, small homes constructed of painted concrete masonry. It is situated along a long narrow, grassy park with a playground. Villa Serena is serviced by these TUSD schools: Hudlow Elementary, Doolen Middle, and Catalina High.
1954 San Rafael Estates – This neighborhood is just north east of Broadway and Wilmot. This small neighborhood with 69 homes and a community pool has 3 floor plans: the ‘Lanai’, the ‘Monterrey’, and the ‘Homes for all America’. Each of these models had several elevations and materials/colors to choose from which made each home unique. Burnt Adobe was the main building material for these homes. This project won the prestigious Merit Award from the National Association of Home Builders. San Rafael Estates was entered into the National Register of Historic Neighborhoods in 2013. San Rafael Estates is serviced by these TUSD schools: Sewell Elementary, Utterback Middle, and Rincon High. Are you interested in learning more about this neighborhood? See the blog I wrote about it here: San Rafael Estates blog
1955 Indian Ridge Estates – This neighborhood includes Indian Crest Estates (1956) and Indian Ridge Terrace (1957). Located on Tucson’s northeast side near Tanque Verde and Sabino Canyon Road in an area bordering ancient Indian ruins. The neighborhood is known for the angular, single-story, low slung homes with asymmetrical pitched roofs, using uniquely southwestern materials such as burnt adobe and red brick. Large angled windows and sliding glass doors are ubiquitous in the neighborhood. This neighborhood also won the coveted Merit Award from the National Association of Home Builders in 1957 and was later entered into the National Register of Historic Districts in 2010. Indian Ridge Estates is serviced by these TUSD schools: Fruchthendler Elementary, Booth-Fickett Middle, and Sabino High. Want more info on Indian Ridge? See the blog I wrote here: Indian Ridge Estates blog
1956 Glen Heather Estates – This neighborhood is located southwest of Broadway Blvd. and Kolb Rd. Glen Heather is serviced by these TUSD schools: Kellond Elementary, Booth-Fickett Middle, and Palo Verde High.
1957 Kingston Knolls Terrace – This neighborhood is north of Broadway Blvd. and on both the east and west sides of Kolb Road. Kingston Knolls Terrace neighborhood won the coveted Merit Award from the National Association of Home Builders. Kingston Knolls Terrace is serviced by these TUSD schools: Hudlow Elementary, Booth-Fickett Middle, and Palo Verde High.
1958 Suffolk Hills – Located southeast of Magee and Oracle, this is one of only two Lusk neighborhoods in Oro Valley, northwest of Tucson. The hilly neighborhood was named after the Countess of Suffolk who purchased the land in 1937 to build her winter home. She sold the land in 1957, then purchased another property farther north (near the Biosphere campus) because she felt the city was encroaching on her property. Shortly after, Lusk Corporation developed 320 acres of that land and named the streets with an English flair, in the Countess’ honor. Lady Suffolk’s home was sold to the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary who still use it to operate the Immaculate Heart School. Suffolk Hills neighborhood won the coveted Merit Award from the National Association of Home Builders. Suffolk Hills is serviced by these Amphitheater School District schools: Harelson Elementary, Cross Middle, and Canyon Del Oro High.
1959 Shadow Mountain Northeast of Hardy Road and Calle Buena Vista. This is one of only two Lusk neighborhoods in Oro Valley, northwest of Tucson. It is just south of Canyon del Oro high school and adjacent to the acclaimed Oro Valley Aquatic Center and park, which has playgrounds and baseball fields. Shadow Mountain is serviced by these Amphitheater School District schools: Mesa Verde Elementary, Cross Middle, and Canyon Del Oro High.
1959 Cloud Ridge Located southeast of Broadway Blvd. and Pantano Road, on Tucson’s east side. Cloud Ridge is serviced by these TUSD schools: Steele Elementary, Gridley Middle, and Sahuaro High.
1959 Sherwood Village is located southeast of Broadway Blvd. and Pantano Road, west of Jessie Owens park, on Tucson’s east side. Sherwood Village is serviced by these TUSD schools: Steele Elementary, Gridley Middle, and Sahuaro High.
1959 Desert Steppes Southeast of Broadway Blvd. and Pantano Road, east of Jessie Owens park, on Tucson’s east side. Desert Steppes is serviced by these TUSD schools: Steele Elementary, Gridley Middle, and Sahuaro High.
1959 Citation Park – Southwest of 22nd Steet and Alvernon Way. Citation Park is serviced by these TUSD schools: Kellond Elementary, Mansfeld Middle, and Tucson High.
1960 Glenn Aire – Northeast of Glenn Street and Rosemont. Glenn Aire is serviced by these TUSD schools: Whitmore Elementary, Doolen Middle, and Catalina High.
1963 Lakeside Located on Tucson’s southeast side. Just southeast of Pantano Road and Stella Road. Lakeside is serviced by these TUSD schools: Ford Elementary, Secrist Middle, and Santa Rita High.
Would you like to learn more about mid-century homes and neighborhoods in Tucson? Check out my Tucson mid-century guide here!