Tag Archives: antique refrigeration

Part 1 – The Housier Cabinet 1890’s Kitchen

1890 Wash Day photo from http://www.explorepahistory.com

[Woman and man sit in Walt Whi... Digital ID: 1636029. New York Public Library Picture from the New York Public Library – woman and man sit in Walt Whitman farmhouse kitchen

From Mattapoisett Historical Society

Before I venture on to The Hoosier Cabinet, I wanted to take a look at a typical kitchen and what a woman’s life was like in 1890.

Respectability was measured by cleanliness. For the turn-of-century woman appearances were everything: hands, faces, outer clothing, doorsteps and entrances were suppose to be kept spotless, as were reputations.

Women who worked on the farm had a damn hard life – canning, butchering, sewing and mending, baking and cooking, keeping the stove hot all day, laundering, sweeping the chimney, filling the gas and oil lamps, hauling water and tending the garden and the children. Before modern detergents it could take a day to clean one room thoroughly. Laundry work took up 3 – 4 days every fortnight. Give me a break! It’s no wonder 47 was considered old age!

Leisure time for a wife at least was at a premium and religion could play a large part, with many Methodists for example expected to attend chapel twice a day on a Sunday and at least one class during the week. This was often impossible in a larger family (many women were pregnant on average every 18 months and 8 – 10 children were not uncommon with 2 – 3 probably dead in their early years) were most women (unless they could afford a nurse) were almost continually nursing a baby or sick child.

Although rather hidden, evidence is slowly emerging that many women of the time were often ill or depressed (no frickin wonder) for much of their lives, with only minimal treatments available.

The middle class had it a bit easier – maybe a servant or two, a wet sink, a cook stove, ice-chest refrigeration [1890-1922]. By 1915
electric refrigeration furnished the homes of the wealthy, but the middle-class would not see truly modern refrigerators until 1922.

Magnolia Manor in Cairo, Illinois

A perfect sized Victorian (which I consider a upper-middle class) kitchen was thought to be 15′ X 17′. Big enough for movement but not too large. It contained a sink, stove, tables, dresser and hopefully connected to a pantry, cold room or a cellar.

Victorian Kitchen

Hard wood floors, washable or tiled surfaces, an iron sink, a portable stove rather than a set range, additional tables and a pump or running water were things every home maker yearn for.

Below is a photo of a woman’s tenement kitchen.

In 1863, New York City conducted the first sanitary survey. New York’s Association for the Improvement of the Condition of the Poor (est. 1844) finds “dark, contracted, ill constructed, badly ventilated and disgustingly filthy” housing. Some 18,000 people live in cellar apartments whose floors are putrid mud.”

While doing research for this post I feel nauseous. The more I read, the more disgusted I am. Woman had no rights, no votes and I’m moving on to The Hoosier Cabinet before I throw up.

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.

Obsessed With The Ice Box


We’re seeing a big interest in Ice Boxes lately!  Why not?  They’re big, bold pieces of history.

Back in the day (before refrigeration) an ice man would come to your home and delivery the ice to keep these cold. You’d use the different sections for dairy, meat and so on. Some had hooks to hang meat!

The economical version was made of oak usually and lined in a tin.  The better the box, the better the insulation. They had a tray which would fill with water that you’d have to empty.

The metal Ice Box was for made for commercial use at first but  seem to have ended up in many homes.

The “higher end” versions were in wood but then we brought in the craftsmen  – carvings, turnings, mirrors and stunning hardware.  Bigger and better! Most of these have a hose with a drip system on the bottom.

Today, these are being manufactured by the ground up.  A wine frig, meat section, who knows what’s in all the compartments. The big, black beauty resides in the 1832 Hurst Haven Plantation in New Orleans.