1958 Caloric Ultramatic vintage stove — the project begins

vintage-caloric-stoveI was hankering for a project, and the Retro Decorating Gods have delivered one unto me — maybe. Meet Mildred, the 1958 Caloric Ultramatic vintage range with my name on it. I hope. 

Why the big “maybes”? Well, as with most all projects undertaken by this Retro Renovator, this one does not want to start easy. The saga to date:

  1. When we first put in the kitchen (seven years ago already!) we really truly wanted a vintage gas range. But we did not find one in time, so we threw $500 at a vintage 1963 GE Pushbutton range that, actually, has been quite dreamy. However, Dear Husband (DH) has always wanted a gas range. However-moreover, I am the project-meister — and knew it was going to be a hassle — so I foot-dragged.
  2. Finally, recently, after tackling a multitude of projects on my list, I started searching around for a vintage gas stove that would please both DH’s desire to cook with gas and my desire for the just-right look, price and proximity. So I started poking around, weighing my options. I stopped and started and stopped and started and stopped and started…
  3. If I had wanted to make my life easier, I could have purchased a totally remanufactured vintage stove. Yes, it would have cost a lot. But that isn’t even what bothered me most about the prospect. I had an epiphany, actually:  For me, it’s unsatisfying to “just throw money at problems.” What’s the story in saying, “I paid $9,000 for that vintage stove”? Me: I am not only fundamentally frugal, but I love a challenge. I want to overcome all obstacles, pursue a dream against all odds, to find a deal and to bring a stove (or whatever else) back to life. Yes, I do sometimes just throw money at problems — especially when I have run out of time. For me, though, it’s just so much more fun to do things The Hard Way.
  4. Until it’s not fun, that is. Okay, speed bump #1. I made a search alert for stoves in western Massachusetts. Within several weeks, a stove that looked great — the 1958 Caloric — popped up. It’s an hour away. It is beautiful. The price was fair. I went to see it. I want it. I called a friend who hauls things, and he said he would go get it for me. But then, oopsy, Sunday night, he emails me to say he can’t go get the range for me until December. Seller needs stove out soon. DH and I do NOT want to haul this behemoth ourselves.


    Does this mark mean that this stove has “automatic safety pilot”? Drats, I wish I knew more.

  5. Speed bump #2: I contacted a local old-timey appliance company to see if they will go over the stove for me. I wanted them to clean it up, check out the basics, and also check to see that it indeed has a functional automatic safety pilot, which is required if you want to connect a gas stove in Massachusetts. I wait patiently for several days to hear back from them, but pooh, they email me yesterday and say they don’t want to take on the project.

What will I do? I want the range. I have put down a deposit. I am confident it is in fundamentally good shape. I am confident that I now know how to connect with experts to help fix any issues that need to be addressed.

But: Can I get the stove moved? Can I find a professional who will be patient enough to work with me on this project? Does it have an automatic safety pilot already — or will we need to add that? If we need to add an auto safety pilot, will fixit pro be up for the task?

“I just want a gas stove,” DH whined to me last night when I told him of the travail. “There is no ‘just’ in any of this,” I replied.

Stay tuned.

retro-laminate-patternAbove: The 1958 kitchen had a rare Formica “Nassau” counter top. It was gorgeous — in perfect shape. In her master’s thesis, Grace Jeffers says that this pattern was a marketplace dud and was only produced for two or three years. Gorgeous!

vintage-green-bathroomvintage-salt-and-pepper-ceramic-tileThere was also a lovely bathroom with mudset gray tile. When you looked closely, you could see the tile was actually salt and pepper on a gray field. Nice!


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  1. Rosanna says

    I have the same exact stove in black at my house. I didn’t know it was this old. It was there when we moved in 15 years ago. It works fine. Pilot lights have to be re-lit sometimes, but that’s about it.

  2. Daniel says

    I have a Caloric Stove that is very similar, just slightly different in the Clock/back splash area and no center griddle

    I love this stove but I recently had it moved to storage but i went to uncover it the other day and seen that the Oven temperature Knob was missing.. the darn moving men musta lost it or something and didn’t tell me and i didn’t realize it until now , A month later..
    Do you or anyone know where i can find parts for it ?
    Its the same knobs that are on yours.

    I actually wish i could find a parts stove like yours and swap the range tops , also one of my door hinges is worn ..

    • pam kueber says

      For stove parts, we have a story on sources — see Kitchen Help/Appliances category to get to it. it’s also in FAQs/Appliances.

  3. Molly says

    Hi! I’m going to go look at an Ultramatic this Thursday that’s being sold on Craigslist in my area for $450. Does that sound like a good price to you? Did you end up buying this Ultramatic and do you like cooking with it?

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