Tag Archives: vintage refrigerator

The Kelvinator Food-a-Rama



1955 Kelvinator Food-a-Rama Commercial

I am doing an appraisal for someone in Texas and thought I’d show some of the fab things I found.

Check out these pics from 1955 at Disneyland – Nash, Rambler & Kelvinator Circarama (motion picture in a-round)



Source: flickriver.com via Jan on Pinterest



See those Food-a-Rama’s in the back – how cool?

What about this Disney Story Board –



Visit Kevin Kidney’s Blog for more Disney – Food-a Rama stuff


More & More Leonard Refrigerators

Back to the Leonard story -

In 1914, Nathaniel B. Wales, a young inventor with the financial backing of Arnold Goss, then secretary of the Buick Automobile company, developed the first household mechanical refrigerators under the name “Electro-Automatic Refrigerating Company”

After producing a number of experimental models, Wales selected one for manufacturing. He then changed the company name to Kelvinator Company in honor of Lord Kelvin, the discoverer of “absolute zero” – the standard temperature basis for modern mechanical refrigeration.

To house the new electric refrigerator cooling device, Wales used the best cabinet on the market at the time – the Leonard refrigerator cabinet. By 1923, Kelvinator held 80% of the market for electric refrigerators. In 1926, Leonard merged with Kelvinator. Also in 1926, the company acquired Nizer, the largest builder of commercial ice cream cabinets marking its entry to the commercial refrigeration business.

I find it interesting that we see refrigerators, washing machines and ranges that are obviously made after 1926 with the Leonard name (rather than Kelvinator). Looks like, the Leonard brand of appliances continued to be sold exclusively through Leonard dealers, as well as through Canadian and English dealers.

art deco styled 1938? (looks older to me leonard)

leonard side by side

pink leonard


Charles Heman Leonard – The Man Behind the Refrigerator

*********************

From THE GRAND RAPIDS HERALD, Grand Rapids, Mich., Wed., March 23, 1927, Pg. 1, Cols. 6&7 and Pg. 2, Col. 4 Obituary

Death yesterday afternoon claimed CHARLES H. LEONARD, pioneer refrigerator manufacturer at his home 455 Morris Ave., SE. He had been in failing health several months and was unconscious for several hours preceding the end.

Funeral services will be held from the residence Thursday at 2 p.m. with Rev. A. W. Wishart, pastor of Fountain Street Baptist church officiating. Burial will be in Fulton st. cemetery.

CHARLES HEMAN LEONARD (1848-1927) was born in Grand Rapids, MI, the son of HEMAN LEONARD (1812-1884) and JANE GOODRICH (1823-1862).

Charles married EMMA JANE CARR (1851-1925) on 15 October 1873. Emma was born in Plainfield, Will Co., IL, the daughter of JAMES WEBSTER CARR (1824-1875) and DOROTHY JANE GOODHUE (1828-1891). Charles and Emma are both buried in FULTON STREET CEMETERY in Grand Rapids, Kent Co., MI.

Born in Grand Rapids Jan. 15, 1848, Mr. Leonard was a son of MR. AND MRS. HERMAN [HEMAN] LEONARD, who came here from Parma, N.Y. in 1842, traveling most of the way by stage coach.

Following his graduation from the Grand Rapids high school in 1866 with the fourth class to receive diplomas, Mr. Leonard was employed in his father’s grocery store, which was located on the site of the present Houseman & Jones establishment. Later he was taken into partnership, the concern becoming H. LEONARD & SONS and including the late Fred H. and Frank E. LEONARD.

The present building of the firm was erected in 1883, occupying the site of the Leonard homestead. The stock of the store, which had changed from groceries to crockery and house fittings, included refrigerators. Charles Leonard had one of these, a device made in Indiana, sent to his home soon after his marriage.

After a time, Mrs. Leonard was informed by her servant that its cleansing represented a problem too difficult for her, and Mr. Leonard always of an inventive turn, set about to produce a refrigerator not only easy to keep clean, but to save ice. He devised a dry air, self-circulating interior ventilation refrigerator and in 1880 took out a patent on it.

The new type of refrigerator was manufactured for two years at the William A. Berkey factory under contract and then a factory was established on the old gas works property extending from Ottawa ave. to Market ave. When this plant was outgrown by the expansion of the business a new location of 26 acres on Clyde Park ave. was purchased and one of the largest refrigerator factories in the world was established there. The old plant was converted into an industrial building.

PURCHASED BY CORPORATION

In 1926 the GRAND RAPIDS REFRIGERATOR COMPANY was purchased by the Electric Refrigerator corporation as its third unit, the others being the Nizer and Kelvinator corporations, Detroit.

Charles H. Leonard headed the Grand Rapids Refrigerator company when the crockery and refrigerator departments of H. Leonard & Son were separated in 1893, but interests of the brothers were not divided. With the purchase of the property by the Electric Refrigerator corporation Mr. Leonard became a member of the board of directors of the new management.


Leonard Refrigerator Company – Late 19th or early 20th century workers producing ice boxes at Leonard Refrigerator.

H. Leonard and Sons – Copy print of two drawings of the H. Leonard and Sons Buildings, one on Monroe Street and the other on Fulton and Spring Streets from The Grand Rapids Library Photographs Collection

One of the original members of the Grand Rapids Board of Trade, which later was reorganized as the Grand Rapids Association of Commerce, Mr. Leonard was active in civic matters and especially in Grand river improvement. He was one of the largest contributors to the capital invested in river shipping. When pure water was a civic issue, he advocated sand filtration. Having visited the St. Louis world’s fair, where he saw a modern filtration plant in operation, he made an 8-foot model of the plant, which aroused much interest in the local water campaign.

MEMBER OF SCHOOL BOARD

Mr. Leonard was a member of the board of education in 1911-12. He advocated daylight saving more than 20 years before it was adopted and was instrumental in bringing about establishment of retail markets for the city. He was the first to use the electric arc light in Grand Rapids, employing this while construction was being rushed on the new crockery and grocery store on Monroe ave. Mr. Leonard also was an early advocate of manual training in the city schools and for many years before its adoption had favored prohibition from an economic standpoint.

Mr. Leonard served for a time as chairman of the board of trustees of Fountain Street Baptist church. He was granted patents on many inventions, some of which were used in the refrigerator business, while others were never utilized. At one time he manufactured a portable galvanized voting booth with two doors, such as were required by law at the time. These were purchased from him by the city.

He was a member of Sons of the American Revolution and a staunch Republican.

He often recalled incidents of the Lincoln presidential campaign in which he took an active part locally. He related several times how the Democrats raised a hickory tree as an emblem of their political faith, on the lot which is now occupied by Hotel Morton and how during the heat of the campaign, local Democrats awoke one morning to see the tree bending and groaning under the weight of several steel rails tied to its branches by himself and other young Republican boosters for “Abe.”

Photographic postcard showing Leonard Street Produce Market, Grand Rapids, Mich. Shows vegetables displayed on counters in booths, with a center aisle. Light poles down the center aisle, full of people. Dec. 9, 1932 purchase date stamp on back.

All photos from The Grand Rapids Library Photographs Collection


Coming Soon – The Leonard Refrigerator

Here on wordpress, I get to see how people find the blog. They search for all kind of appliances, parts, design ideas and who-knows-what-else.

Every day they search Leonard Refrigerator. This week I’ll take a serious look at “The Leonard”.

Let’s take a look at why is this particular brand is so popular? Where’d it start? And all the who, what’s, where and when’s?

Let’s call it “Exploring the Leonard”.


GE Monitor Top Refrigerator

The GE Monitor Top came out in 1927 and was considered the first compact, affordable American refrigerator. When freon came in to play these basically became obsolete.

“The GE Monitor top refrigerator is perhaps the most recognized of vintage refrigerators. Built on the principal of a French industrialist concept for a hermetically sealed refrigeration system, the first models available to the general public, for residential use, were introduced in 1927. General Electric committed $18 million dollars to the manufacturing of these units and another million dollars to advertise them to the public.”read more at www.antiqueappliance.com

Great article from The Industrial Designers Society of America’s site

Cool pic from flickr friend chrisarchives from the Schenectady Museum. Christian Steenstrup With First GE Monitor-top Refrigerator

“Christian Steenstrup, of General Electric Refrigerator Engineering Department, photographed with first commercial sample of GE refrigerator in his home in Schenectady, New York. Steenstrup developed the Monitor-top, the first hermetically sealed steel refrigerator. A Danish immigrant, Steenstrup, as a young toolmaker at GE, helped develop GE’s employee suggestion system.”

Christian Steenstrup With First GE Monitor-top Refrigerator

Finally, a great little video from youtube.


The Vintage Refrigerator

I haven’t had time for every one to see some great vintage refrigerators.

Here’s a few to wet you whistle.

A cool Perfection Stove Company Super Fex Kerosene Refrigerator. Very rare and very pricey.

Seval Refrig. with ice blue trim and freezer door.

The big insides of a Food-O-Rama

How about this turquoise frig you hang above your counter.


Favorite Movie Refrigerator Scene

Years ago, Vintage Appliances in Tucson www.antiquevintageappliances.com sold two identical vintage refrigerators for the movie Raiders Of The Lost Ark – The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull.

One of the refrigerators is in the kitchen scene. Watch what happens to the other.


Vintage appliances just keep running

Leonard side x  sideBob Karlovits wrote in his article for the Pittsburgh Tribune -Review – “Old appliances are like friends who have been around for a long time.

Sometimes they are dependable and reliable. Other times they are sitting around long after it was time to go. But most times, they have earned a spot for which there is no replacement.” Read more Vintage appliances just keep running – Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

Look at the old Leonard Side X Side in the photo above. A beauty!

Here’s a brief look at the history of “Leonard ” – Kelvinator began in 1881 as The Leonard Refrigerator Company. The company grew to be a leader in wooden icebox cabinets and in 1914 developed its first household mechanical refrigerators under the name of the Electro-Automatic Refrigerating Company.

In 1918, it introduced the first refrigerator with any type of automatic control. In 1920 their production numbers went from two dozen to more than two hundred. Compressors were generally driven by belts attached to motors located in the basement or in an adjoining room. The company changed its name to Kelvinator soon after (to protect the cold as well as the innocent), and by 1923 held 80% of the market for electric refrigerators.

What a dream! I’d build a kitchen around it. I’d be keeping it forever!


Rare Monitor Top Refrigerator YouTube Video

Happy New Year !!

To all my family, friends and vintage appliance lovers – have a great New Year. Take time to enjoy, live and love!

This one got my heart pumping!!  A  GE 1930 Monitor Top refrigerator. Just push the Watch on YouTube button!

You’ve got to love this cute, little lady!


The Ice Box Restoration

I've seen Ice Boxes used as bedroom dressers and book shelves but
what does it take to make this a modern working refrigerator?

If it's a rare beauty or you just love it, this might be something
to look at. (Tip - start saving your pennies now! This is what
turns that $600.00 box into the $6000.00 box!)

To hide the compressor a steel base on wheels can be manufactured
which the Ice Box would be mounted to.

A high efficient compressor, condenser and fan motor is
installed. The inside of old ice compartment is lined with
stainless steel. The next step is to install a new evaporator,
cold control, fan, electric lights and recharge the system with
an R-12 blend refrigerant.The exterior is refinished and a 
skirt is built to hide the base and compressor.Any color, 
new chrome or gold-plated hardware - the sky's the limit.

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