Shirley All-Steel Kitchens of Indianapolis, Indiana

Shirley Steel Kitchen Cabinets Indianapolis INNow that Kate has flown my coop, I have decided to embark on a new project: Creating The Retro Renovation® Encyclopedia of Vintage Steel Kitchen Cabinets. Collected over the course of 10years — often with the help of many readers — we know all the 80 brands, from Ace & Acme to York & Youngstown. I have many of the brochures. Now, it’s time to become best friends with my $900 scanner and get the Encyclopedia organized. First up: Shirley All-Steel Kitchens, of Indianapolis, Indiana. It’s first because it was sitting at the top of my pile. For, like, six months.

Tip to view photos: On a desktop computer, click on any photo and it should double in size (up to 1,000 pixels wide) on screen. Hit ESC or anywhere off the photo to return to the story.

Shirley Steel Kitchen Cabinets Indianapolis INAccording to my 16-page catalog, Shirley All-Steel Kitchens were made by the Shirley Corporation– and clearly, this was a family venture because the president was John W. Shirley. His obituary was published in the Indianapolis Star on Oct. 23, 1985. (A credit card was required for the free trial, so I ditched.)

I’m guess that Shirley Corp. was a descendant company or renaming of Shirley Radiator and Foundry Co.

Shirley Steel Kitchen Cabinets Indianapolis IN
Features that may distinguish this brand from others:

  • Surely (Shirley!): The logo on the sink cabinet
  • + Look inside the sink base door, there may be a label
  • Likely: the air vents on the sink cabinets
  • Likely: the steel sink designs (see p. 7 for its feature) — Shirley likely had their own stamping press just for their sinks
  • Possibly: the what not shelf (see p. 14)
  • Possibly: very simple cabinet pulls

Other than these… this kitchen looks to be a pretty “standard” design — full overlay slab doors with knife hinge… cabinets in a variety of sizes… simple looking cabinet pulls.

Made a bathroom vanity, too:

  • BUT also check out this steel bathroom vanity — steel bathroom vanities are rare, and this one also includes a steel sink-top and groovy door pulls — and it’s pink — nice!

The circa 1952 Shirley Steel Kitchen Cabinets catalog:

Shirley Steel Kitchen Cabinets Indianapolis INShirley Steel Kitchen Cabinets Indianapolis INShirley Steel Kitchen Cabinets Indianapolis INShirley Steel Kitchen Cabinets Indianapolis INShirley Steel Kitchen Cabinets Indianapolis INShirley Steel Kitchen Cabinets Indianapolis INShirley Steel Kitchen Cabinets Indianapolis INShirley Steel Kitchen Cabinets Indianapolis INShirley Steel Kitchen Cabinets Indianapolis INShirley Steel Kitchen Cabinets Indianapolis INShirley Steel Kitchen Cabinets Indianapolis INShirley Steel Kitchen Cabinets Indianapolis INShirley Steel Kitchen Cabinets Indianapolis INShirley Steel Kitchen Cabinets Indianapolis INShirley Steel Kitchen Cabinets Indianapolis INShirley Steel Kitchen Cabinets Indianapolis INShirley Steel Kitchen Cabinets Indianapolis IN

Above: A close-up look at the Formica options. Countertops also were available “in any standard gauge linoleum or maple wood…”

Shirley Steel Kitchen Cabinets Indianapolis INShirley Steel Kitchen Cabinets Indianapolis IN

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Comments

  1. Barbara says

    AMAZING INFO PAM!!
    My kitchen is going retro! Pulling this rabbit out of your hat absolutely gets my retro set mind out of the gates and running.
    What company today makes these steel cabinets for kitchens? I would love a full set of brand new cabinets.
    THANKS!
    Barbara
    P.S. I truly enjoy your enthusiasm Pam. Keep up the good work.

        • pam kueber says

          In Italy, I think. Super spendy, I bet! And English Rose in the U.K. (use our Search box up top for our stories.) Not sure about shipping….

          See our entire category Kitchen Help / Steel Kitchens.

          • says

            My previous life was as a laboratory planner (I designed crime labs and medical examiner labs to be more precise) and there are a number of manufactures of laboratory grade casework (that’s what we call it in the biz) that is made from steel. And they come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. Here are the big two names (one in the US and one in Canada):

            Mott Manufacturing (Canada)
            http://www.mott.ca

            Kewaunee Scientific (U.S.)
            http://www.kewaunee.com

            There are some other one-off manufacturers of steel lab casework as well if you google Steel Casework.

            You probably can’t buy directly from the manufacturer (but maybe you can, I’ve never tried) but you might be able to buy them through lab supply companies like vwr.com and fishersci.com. Don’t expect them to be cheap, though! They will stand up to just about anything, though as they are made to be resist some pretty strong chemicals.

            HTH!

  2. Jay says

    Don’t call me Shirley! Seriously though, the catalog is great; I always get a kick out of the expansive kitchen illustrations that look like there’s plenty of room to dance a tango in.
    You have your work cut out for you, 80 brands? Wow.

  3. Robin, NV says

    Just noticed the image on page 4 of the Happy Housewife sitting in her “old style” kitchen, dreaming of a new, modern kitchen. Too cute! All that old timey stuff just won’t do anymore!

  4. Trudi says

    Actually my favorite part of this post is the selling features of the Formica countertops. Easily cleaned with a damp cloth, safe from alcohol and fruit acids, boiling water, and it does not craze, crack, or color-fade. Tell me again why people rip Formica out and put in granite?

  5. says

    Pam, This encyclopedia will be so helpful. I’m trying to put together a steel kitchen, but I have a U- shaped kitchen (with a curved wall of glass windows) and I need several curved end cabinets. I’m going through each company to see who made the curved inner cabinets to make a “U” and who made curved end cabinets.

  6. Lynn says

    Thank you for featuring an Indianapolis company! This has always been my home and I am very interested in reading pieces of history about our great city. My family has lived here since the mid-1800s. It’s cool to know that we had a fun contribution to our favorite era of home decor!

  7. Tommy Knappenberger says

    I finally just put one of the last finishing touches on my steel kitchen project. A friend and I drove 90 miles from Louisville,Ky. to Hope Indiana and picked up a beautiful Shirley porcelain drainboard sink (the “favorite 54”) at of all places, a junkyard. The sink was in great shape, base cabinet not so much, but I did not need that. I installed it on my turquoise cabinets made by an unknown manufacturer. Can’t wait for more steel cabinet information, as it may help identify them. Special thanks to my Plumber, Louie. I now have a working kitchen sink for the first time in 15 YEARS!!!! Also my parents were from Warren, Ohio and my dad worked for Youngstown Kitchens in the late 40’s-early 50’s. and also Republic Steel.

  8. Robbie Kendall says

    File under the ‘have your cake and eat it, too’ department:

    Seeing the ‘Black – 1014’ Formica swatch, the stainless steel trim for it, and the ‘Sink-to-Counter-Top Filler’ above, gave me the idea that you could actually treat granite like Formica. All you would need is a type of granite, say Black Galaxy (http://www.homedepot.com/p/Stonemark-Granite-3-in-Granite-Countertop-Sample-in-Black-Galaxy-DT-G772/203271011) that is similar to vintage Formica, surround the counters and back splashes in stainless steel, and Presto! You have a look that is in keeping with the original design of a steel cabinet kitchen and are using modern materials.

    The kitchen in our 1939 home had steel cabinets which were ripped out by the second owner. The third owner ripped this kitchen out and replaced the Formica that was there with granite counters. I have never had granite counters before and am shocked (yes, shocked!) how much I like them. I’d also like to re-use these counters when we replace the current cabinets with steel cabinets. Using them with stainless steel trim might do the trick.

  9. Lisa Compo says

    With all the info you have collected, brochures, your model collections, readers photos etc….this would make a fantastic book to be published. The Complete History of Steel Kitchen Cabinets…or something much better sounding. 😉 It might be a copyright nightmare…but if not, I am sure it would be a really neat and interesting collectors item book. I’d buy one, but I want an autographed copy since I have been a RetroReno reader since the pretty early days. I joined the FB site when it was under 100 likes. You should think about doing the book…being a millionaire might be nice.

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