Category 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: 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

For Sale – Restored 1952 Coldspot Refrigerator

Jim contacted me looking for a buyer for his restored 1952 Coldspot Refrigerator. Love the “Hawaiian Aqua” paint job. Perfect for a retro

“Recently restored vintage 1952 Coldspot Refrigerator with built in freezer. This unit has had a new door seal and all new insulation. The handle, hinges and racks have all been triple plated with new chrome. The unit also has a new cord with a ground for safety. The box and door was taken to bare metal and painted with base/clear BASF Hawaiian Aqua striped with antique white. The fridge honestly looks better than new, as it has a real classy look to it. Perfect for a man cave, bar, game room or retro kitchen. $2500 OBO”

This sweet piece is in Indianapolis. You can contact Jim through email at or contact me at for more info.

UPDATE – sold on ebay

Related Articles on the Web –

From the Sears Archives – Coldspot 1928 – 1976

From the Raymond Loewy website – Coldspot 1935

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

The Leonard Cleanable Refrigerator


The story goes – (from Wikipedia and – “The famous Leonard “Cleanable” Refrigerator came about after a mishap in the Leonard home: a pail of hot cooling lard was left inside an ice box on top of a cake of ice, resulting in melted ice, a spilled pail and cooled lard spilled all over.”

Charles created his refrigerator with removable liners and flues. In 1885, Leonard introduced metal shelves and improved the door-locking mechanisms. 1907 saw the introduction of porcelain lined interiors, which further enhanced the cleanability and sanitation of refrigerators.

The refrigerator cabinets were made of highly varnished carved-oak, brass fixtures, and enhanced with mirrors.

In 1923, Leonard sold 8 models for the home. They claimed “one out of every 7 refrigerators sold are made by Leonard”. The price ranged from $35.00 to the $170.00 model which was porcelain clad with an ice capacity of 100 pounds.

Here’s picture from of the Leonard Booth at an Appliance Convention in the late 20’s or early 30’s.

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.


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.


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”.

A 1900 “Folk Victorian” Home in Michigan


I started this post about the Collins’ family home 6 months ago (some how it got away from me). The GE Monitor Top Refrigerator, Chambers Stove and fabulous wall of white cupboards had me hooked and I couldn’t stop wondering what had been going on in that kitchen?

Why am I hooked? I love old American homes, that working people turn into their own, personal treasures. They become a part of their lives and stories.

My taste runs towards the simple and functional. I am not too keen on foo-foo or high-maintenance. I love antiques and period homes. I love this kitchen (I’ll give you a peek but wait till the end!) and I love the Collins’ home.

I had hoped to show the restoration in progress. They’ve been working and what a fabulous job they’ve done.


Bill says – “I live in Eaton Rapids, Michigan with my wife and two kids in the same town where I was born and grew up. The two-story house is what I call Folk Victorian, built circa 1900. We purchased it at the end of March, 2010, and we moved into it in March of 2011, after almost exactly a year of renovation work. It’s not our first old house, but it’s the first one on which we did such major work.

The original details were the major selling points, including floors, trim, doors and windows, storm windows, and plaster walls. The kitchen had been “updated” in the 1970’s or 80’s, but no lasting harm was done, especially to the unique full wall of floor-to-ceiling pantry cupboards. The only room that required gutting the walls down to the studs was the main bath.

It was never a fancy, high-Victorian house. The original trim is fairly simple and was always painted, not stained. This made it easier to match in the few places it was necessary, and it did a lot to make the DIY restoration work more doable. We did over 90% of the work ourselves, with occasional help from good friends. Work included: blown insulation in the previously hollow walls; stripping wallpaper (every wall, throughout the house); main bathroom demolition; removing old wall-to-wall carpeting; removing old vinyl flooring in the kitchen and bath; full renovations of the kitchen and main bath, including wainscoting and new linoleum flooring; adding an upstairs half-bath; painting walls and ceilings throughout the house; refinishing wood floors; refurbishing hardware throughout the house, including fixtures and door hardware; major plumbing overhaul and extensive electrical work.”

The kitchen before –




The Sun Porch off-of the kitchen –


Sun Porch (after) –


Parlor and Dining Room (before)-


Parlor and Dining Room after –



“The main bath had been remodeled several times over the decades. (There were five layers of wall surfacing, each applied directly over the previous layer, from old and weathered horizontal beadboard paneling to fiberboard, drywall, wallpaper, and more drywall.) Originally it was a side porch which was enclosed to create in indoor bathroom sometime after the house was originally built. It felt cramped, with a low acoustic-tile ceiling and dark blue wallpaper. It also had significant water damage due to poor roof flashing. With a new steel roof installed, we set about removing each layer of wall, down to the studs and rebuilt it with moisture-resistant drywall and new beadboard wainscoting. There was also a walk-in closet in the upstairs hall, which I converted into a half-bath. I did all the plumbing work myself. The clawfoot bathtub was salvaged from my mother’s farmhouse, stripped and refinished by a local pro. The vintage Kohler sinks in both bathrooms came from a local architectural salvage.”

The “main” bath during demo –


Bath after –


Resurfaced Kohler sink with new faucets and original brass pop-up drain. Pop up knob says “waste”.


One of pair of antique sconces in bathroom –


“Most of the light fixtures are also salvage or antique shop finds which I repaired and restored. The dining room pan-chandelier, in particular, was donated by friends as a box of rusty parts. The only light fixture original to the house is the unique single-bulb fixture in the upstairs hall, which has a suspended steel shade with a coral-pink glass insert. We took that color to echo when we painted the upstairs bath. The wall switches and outlets were a hodgepodge of styles and colors. For a uniform, period approach I replaced all with new brown switches and outlets and I covered them with vintage Bakelite wall plates from the local Habitat for Humanity Restore.”

light dinroom 04


“Removing the main floor carpeting revealed original wood floors, although they had been heavily splattered with paint. After scraping and sanding, I stained the oak flooring in the parlor and dining room a dark mahogany, then finished with four coats of clear polyurethane. The heart pine floor in the family room had a beautiful orange cast and I left it unstained, only finishing with the clear poly. The oak flooring upstairs wasn’t in bad shape, but it benefitted from a light sanding and two new coats of poly. Then the floors were appointed with a collection of great vintage wool-pile rugs purchased at an estate sale, and a new runner for the stairs.”



Here’s what got me “hooked ” in the first place – the kitchen. Oh, those cupboards. I thought, “I’d die and gone to heaven”.







“Exterior renovation is still in progress, and will be for some time. But after a solid year’s effort, even on a fairly tight budget, the interior is pretty much completed and it turned out just about exactly the way we wanted. With a few finishing touches like the rugs, our collections of antique furniture, and window treatments that brought it all together, we were able to move into a house that already felt like home.”

Thanks to Bill “Piper” Collins and his family for a virtual tour of his Folk Victorian home. If your wondering where the Piper comes from Bill’s a bagpiper in the Glen Erin Pipe Band.


Good night all!!