Please join us and be a part of preserving a gem of Peoria's manufacturing history. All donations collected from the link below will go towards the restoration and preservation of the LeTourneau Care Free House at the Wheels O' Time Museum. CILF always makes sure that your information is secured by PayPal.
To donate by check, make your donation payable to CILF Steel House Project
and mail to Central Illinois Landmarks Foundation; PO Box 495; Peoria, IL 61651.
The Project to Save the LeTourneau "Carefree Home"
R. G. LeTourneau was one of America’s great inventors and industrialists of the 20th century. He opened his construction equipment factory in the Averyville section of Peoria in 1935. As he recognized that the Great Depression had created a housing shortage for his employees, LeTourneau developed the concept of the “Carefree Home,” a small all-steel house. Several hundred of the houses were built at his factory, until production ceased as World War II approached and steel became scarce.
The all-steel homes featured many innovations – they were perhaps the first air-conditioned homes (albeit a primitive system). Brochures proclaimed “It must be air conditioned, insulated not alone against cold and heat, but against, storm, dust, termites, flood, flame, and other foes. And it must be a trouble-proof house — a house requiring a minimum of maintenance — a Carefree House.”
The homes were located in Peoria, East Peoria, and Peoria Heights. About thirty of the structures still exist today with a significant cluster located near the Peoria Heights water tower.
One of LeTourneau’s “Carefree Homes” remained at the factory site and was used as a manufacturing office until the early 1980’s. Komatsu, who now owns the former LeTourneau factory, has generously agreed to donate the structure to the Central Illinois Landmarks Foundation. The project plan is to move the structure to the Wheels O’Time Museum facility in northern Peoria in 2017 where it will be rehabilitated and turned into a significant exhibit honoring the creativity of its creator.
The project is a collaboration of Central Illinois Landmarks Foundation, the Peoria Historical Society, and Wheels ‘O Time Museum. Other collaborators are firms and labor groups who plan to donate services to help accomplish the task.
The project, while honoring one of Peoria’s great industrial figures, will make a major contribution to the museum scene in Peoria and will show what can happen when we all come together to make something great happen.