Tag Archives: GE Monitor Top Refrigerator

A 1900 “Folk Victorian” Home in Michigan

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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.

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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 –

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The Sun Porch off-of the kitchen –

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Sun Porch (after) –

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Parlor and Dining Room (before)-

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Parlor and Dining Room after –

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“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 –

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Bath after –

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

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One of pair of antique sconces in bathroom –

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“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.”

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“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.”

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

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“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.

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Good night all!!

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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.


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!