A 1957 Time Capsule Kitchen

A view of the Koravos family kitchen. Courtesy of Historic New England. Used on this site with permission.

A view of the Koravos family kitchen. Courtesy of Historic New England. Used on this site with permission.

THE 1957 KITCHEN from the Koravos family home in Andover, Massachusetts is the eye candy of the America’s Kitchens exhibition. Imagine original robin’s egg blue metal cabinets, stainless Westinghouse wall oven and cooktop, and canary yellow Formica counters with space-age patterning, all in near pristine condition. Mrs. Koravos preferred to cook in a second full kitchen in her basement, leaving this one on the first floor, which her guests would see, clean and clutter-free. According to curator and co-author Nancy Carlisle, show kitchens were popular in Greek- and Italian-American homes during the twentieth century. And take heart, retro renovators: Historic New England acquired the Koravos gem when a relative of co-author Melinda Nasardinov saw it posted on Craigslist!

Erica Donnis is an independent historian and museum consultant based in Burlington, Vermont.  This is her fifth and final vignette reviewing America’s Kitchens — the book and now,  a traveling national exhibition. Thank you, Erica!

Readers, click on the image below THREE times and it will get very big so that you can see the detail.

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Comments

  1. sumac sue says

    While no one in my family ever had a kitchen just for show, I did have relatives who had second kitchens set up in the basement to be used for big jobs like canning vegetables, or to handle extra cooking for holiday meals. It kept some of the mess and heat out of the upstairs kitchen. These relatives moved their older stoves and fridges to the basement when they got newer models for the upstairs kitchen. They’d store the canned vegetables down there, along with potatoes, winter squash, and apples. It showed a lot of self-reliance. Sure wish I had a basement!

  2. Kristin says

    I think I finally see one solution to my galley kitchen problem from this picture: The wallpaper behind the sink area! Our walls are painted the same color as the cabinets in this photo, so if we added something (not necessarily wallpaper but interesting tiles maybe?) to the area behind the counter, underneath the cabinets on either side of our sink, it could really break it up like the lovely time capsule kitchen above!

  3. pam kueber says

    Just added a ‘thumbnail’ of the kitchen at the bottom of the post. Click it three times and it will get really big. You can see the detail – for sure that’s tile along the backsplash. Very shiny mosaic.

    Another note, Erica Donnis confirmed that the counter really is Canary Yellow, even though it has a chartreuse cast in this photo.

  4. Alison Marie says

    My Italian grandmother also had a second kitchen in the basement, made from the old upstairs kitchen when they remodeled in the ’60s. (waste not, want not). The upstairs kitchen wasn’t for show, but using the basement kitchen kept the rest of the house from getting heated up by cooking, and it provided plenty of space to dry homemade pasta and store home-canned foods.

  5. mcmeg says

    A boyfriend I had after college lived in the Lehigh Valley in a mid-century ranch with a walk-out basement. They had a tv/game room and a second kitchen in the basement where they did all their cooking. The second floor was the main kitchen, perfect and untouched and the living room, covered in plastic with plastic runners where ever you needed to walk. The third floor was the bedrooms. I often wonder if that kitchen is still there.

  6. says

    i am a producer in the boston area and desperately seeking a kitchen like this for a photo shoot end of next week! any clue how i could get a hold of their info?? that would be a dream : )

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