Found: 1963 aqua Geneva steel kitchen cabinets – from a cooking school run by nuns in NYC!

The is the original home of the steel kitchen cabinets I’d been searching for, for nearly 5 years. The decorating gods sent them to me, just as I needed to lock in a decision about my cabinets. I’d just about given up hope of finding the vintage steel kitchen cabinets I wanted — hard to find a set large enough to fit my 15×15 kitchen, and they had to be geographically near. But these came to me just in time — and in aqua — the color my husband wanted — 67 of them — plenty to work with — and in great shape. They are from The Grace Institute, a not-for-profit on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, and had been installed in 1963. Nuns ran the institute at the time, and these filled two rooms used to teach cooking to women in need. Today, the rooms are used to teach ESL classes (in progress when I initially visited to scope out the cabinets, pictured.) The nuns took great care of them. I’m told they were only used for seven or eight years. Note the dymo labels they put on to keep track of the cabinets’ contents. I wanted to keep these on, but my husband’s patience stopped there. The fastidious nuns also labeled the inside.

  1. Heidi E. says:

    Would this be the same Geneva Steel that operated in Utah ( where I am from) for many decades? Fascinating if so.

  2. brian mchugh says:

    Hey Pam-

    Great article on the history of metal kitchen cabinets. My wife and I own a 1953 mid century ranch house in Nashville. The house has the original small set of Youngstown cabinets. After months of obsessing on craigslist, we found a complete set in Knoxville for a mere 350.00 to add to our existing cabinets.
    All the cabinets need to be repainted. I hoped to have them powdercoated, which would look great and be very durable. However, after painting the cabinets, they are put in an oven to bake the paint on. I cant open the cabinet doors without damaging them, but I think there is cardboard or paper inside them. That would be bad in the oven. Any idea what is inside them? Anyone ever repaint metal cabinets willing to share tips?

    Stay classy

    Brian & Keri
    Nashville, TN

    1. pam kueber says:

      Brian – I don’t know, and there were at least 75 manufacturers… I have heard of folks having warped doors if the steel doors go into an oven. You might try talking to an auto body shop or other industrial painter about doing spray – no heat. Good luck. Be sure to consult with professionals that will take proper environmental and safety precautions. Good luck.

  3. Joellen says:

    Oh Wow! I just found 4 cabinet pulls in chrome that match your cabinets! What brand are your cabinets? Great web site!

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