The GE Wonder Kitchen: Introduced in 1955

“…The most magnificent, yet most sensible work-saver,
space-saver and time-saver ever!” — ad
vintage-GE-wonder-kitchen-1vintage-GE-wonder-kitchen-8After our recent article about Chris’ kitchen, which spotlighted his restored GE Wonder KitchenI decided to pursue some true academic research into this wonderful design from mid century America. GE Wonder Kitchens were, “An internally plumbed and wired G-E ‘Kitchen Center’ combining an automatic dishwaher, range, Dispoall-equipped sink, and a washer dryer. All mounted under one stainless steel counter.” The basic unit was 9.5 feet long, I believe.

mies van der rohe chicago kitchen

Chris’ kitchen with its restored GE Wonder Kitchen

I went looking for more info and golly, what with the power of the Google, my most basic questions were answered fast. Right away, I found this June 27, 1955 advertisement from LIFE. This ad indicates that the first GE Wonder Kitchens are about to be launched. It features William Levitt, and says that these kitchen-laundry units will be installed in his development in Levittown, Pennsylvania. The ad proclaims:

In the words of one woman enthusiast, “It is the most magnificent, yet most sensible work-saver, space-saver and time-saver ever!”

ge appliancesvintage-GE-wonder-kitchen-6After I found the 1955 ad online, I then went into my stash of vintage marketing materials, and super quick, located several ads for GE’s kitchen appliances from 1955. GE must really have been making a big push this particular year. In addition to spotlighting the Wonder Kitchen, they also were promoting other built-ins including their now-famous refrigerator that looks like a wall cabinet. The built-ins that were part of the Wonder Kitchen also could be purchased separately.

In fact, the Wonder Kitchen ad says: “… 55 out of every 100 women think G.E. makes the best home appliances.”

vintage-GE-wonder-kitchen-8

Also pretty groovy: See the GE 1955 color palette — Canary Yellow, Turquoise Green, Petal Pink, Cadet Blue and Woodtone Brown. Note — they are promoting to “mix and match” these colors. Indeed, we occasionally see two-tone kitchens in the wild. More so in ads, though. Methinks that most women were pretty conservative about getting too trendy with their purchases of this big ticket items.

GE Wonder Kitchen

… and, Cadet Blue — golly, I’ve never heard of that one before!  Must be as rare to see today as Frigidaire’s short-lived 1960s Poppy Red.

ge wonder kitchenAbove, a GE Wonder Kitchen in the famous 1960 “Scarsdale time capsule house” that we showed here a few years ago. I am thinking: The Wonder Kitchen was high-end.

ge wonder kitchenIn a comment added to the story about Chris’ kitchen, reader Lori reminded us that she also has a GE Wonder Kitchen. And — she has a husband who is a professional — he rewired it, and she is using this daily!

Lori provided lots of detail, writing:

Hi There! Love the kitchen remodel. And the fact that another one of these rare GE kitchen centers has been saved. I was fortunate to pick up one of these kitchen centers about six years ago on EBAY. MIne’s in PINK and it’s still has the original paint. Pam was so kind to feature my entire kitchen on the site here last year titled Lori’s Whole Lotta Lovin’ Fun kitchen.

The date on my GE KITCHEN CENTER is Oct. 1956. I have the combo washer/dryer, dishwasher, stove and cleaner container compartment. My husband is an electrical engineer so he rewired the entire center and brought it up to code so that I could use it. I have the sliding doors for my center but when I put them on I couldn’t see my vintage figurine display so I opted to leave them off. Also I have in storage the matching stackable ovens. I have an original 1957 GE CALENDAR and the month of JULY features the GE KITCHEN CENTER. The bottom of the page reads: “GENERAL ELECTRIC KITCHEN CENTER. New, Deluxe Package Kitchen. Available in five, beautiful Mix or Match colors. Four time saving, work saving appliances, range, dishwasher, Disposall (copyrighted), and combination washer/dryer all under a seamless, long-lasting stainless steel counter. Many deluxe features – cabinettes, fluorescent lights, retractable cord center, custom radio, and cleaner container compartment – gives you more glamour…more utility…more beauty.” When I was looking for my GE KITCHEN CENTER I found some manuals for 1955, 1956 and 1957 so I’m not sure if those were the only years but I’m pretty sure that the first centers were either 1954 or 1955. And I know they didn’t have a long production run. They were designed to be used in a small space giving you all the appliances you need at your finger tips. So I’m thrilled to see another GE KITCHEN CENTER being reclaimed and displayed so beautifully! GREAT JOB!!

GE cabinettesI am not sure when Cabinettes were added to the mix.

The GE Wonder Kitchen: pretty cool. Now you know.

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Comments

  1. anonymous says

    To stare balefully into this colorful memento of 1955’s “futurist” past is to know, somewhere deep inside the sad, tired, and utterly bland and exhausted soul of present-day America, of what has been irretrievably and painfully lost, and will not return, “retro” or otherwise.

    • pam kueber says

      Golly, I think everyone is doing the best they can… And, the past had its awful issues, in so many ways…

      • David Tauber says

        I am looking for the oven handle to my unit (or oven drawer, as they are the same). Are there any parts or resources out there for parts?

  2. Joe Felice says

    And don’t forget that GE/Hotpoint was the first to have plug-in elements for easy replacement, starting in the ’60s. As a young man, I remember replacing burned-out elements in the oven & on the stove top, as well as the door seal, with no training or special tools. But those clocks were impossible to set.

  3. Robert Ross says

    I have a 1956 Wonder kitchen with an extended top. I need to replace either the oven, or the baking and broiling elements in the oven. Can anyone help?

    • pam kueber says

      See Kitchen Help / Appliances subcategory or FAQs / Appliances for our story on where to find help with this question.

  4. Gwen Billiot says

    I have a 1955 GE electric kitchen, pink in color. the kitchen faucet is not in working order. trying to find a replacement faucet for this sink. is there any web site that you can find replacement parts for this kitchen.

    • pam kueber says

      I have a few suggestions:

      1 – You can try The Old Appliance Club and see if anyone there can help you re: replacement parts for the faucet you have. Also try Deabath.com

      2 – Looks like Chris just replaced his with a different wall-mount faucet. We have numerous stories on where to find these in our Kitchen Help/Faucets category. You can also get Dishmasters as wall-mount! Re any of these, you will need to ensure you get the right center-on-center design to fit your existing holes. http://retrorenovation.com/category/kitchen/faucets/

  5. Alan says

    I live in South Florida, in a co-op apt.built circa ’56-’57. The apartments were all originally equipped with these kitchens. My grandparents were the second owner of the unit, which they used sparingly as a winter retreat from their New England home. I still use the kitchen every day minus the original washer/dryer, cabinet fridge, and original dishwasher. I must say it is a joy to use, and the stainless is a breeze to keep clean. I too am going to have to rewire the stove top…

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