Our 74th brand of vintage metal cabinets: Olympia Aluminum Kitchen Kabinets

olympia kitchen cabinets emblemReader JoAnn Wiltrakis has discovered our 74th known brand of vintage metal kitchen cabinets: Even more wonderful — this is our first brand of vintage aluminum kitchen cabinets: “Olympia Kitchen Kabinets.” She writes:

I put a deposit on these yesterday. They need painting. There is no rust, but very worn paint around the pulls. I put a magnet on them, and it does not stick.

Hopefully, I can combine them with other brands, because I doubt I will find more of the same. The good thing is they are local, so no shipping.

— JoAnn

JoAnne, congratulations and many thanks — this is a terrific find! I have some questions, though:

  • I don’t know about things like the properties of metals, so can someone tell me: Does aluminum even rust?
  • Car guys (said in gender neutral way, I am part Californian): Would these aluminum cabinets have been even More Expensive than steel back in the day?
  • Washington staters: Was there a big aluminum manufacturing complex in Olympia? Perhaps associated with the aerospace industry?
  • 52 PostnBeam, will JoAnn be able to combine them with other brands?
  • And JoAnn, where will you put your magnets? 🙂

More information on Olympia Kitchen Kabinets — made by Western Metalcraft / Metalware:

Thanks to the several readers who contributed additional information. It seems that the manufacturer of Olympia Kitchen Kabinets made them in both aluminum and steel:

Wendy said:

I live in olympa, so i HAD to see what the deal was with the manufacturer, so i blew up the pic showing the tag in the drawer to see the name of the cabinet maker (Western Metalcraft, Inc.), then found out they were in the old Olympia brewery for just a short time after WWII. And as Mark said, there were smelters just north of us in Tacoma.

Here’s the site with the info: http://www.brewerygems.com/olympia.htm

Then, Karen added:

Western Metalcraft did indeed own and occupy the original (1896) Olympia Brewing site, beginning right after WWII. After several years of manufacturing various metal items, including cabinets, Western changed ownership and changed name 1951-52 to General Metalcraft/Metalware. The Schmidt family, the family who established Olympia Beer, was financially involved in both companies. We have some of the aluminum and some steel cabinets in the historic Schmidt family home, now an event venue and archives. (We also have some old brochures from Western in our collection.)

Western made steel cabinets after WWII, when the metal shortage eased up, and later switched to aluminum. I believe aluminum was later in short supply, due to its demand for military use during the Korean War.

The General plant in Tumwater WA went out of business in 1962.

And Mark noted:

I live in WA and there were a couple of huge aluminum smelting plants in Washington state, one in Tacoma, just North of Olympia and one in Spokane.

Link love:

  1. Richard says:

    I haven’t read the entire thread but thought I’d post my experiences. I’m a mechanical design engineer so I am familiar with aluminum part design. Aluminum does corrode but quickly forms it’s own self-limiting aluminum oxide “skin” when exposed to air. You can’t see it but it’s there.

    I have a set of the Olympia cabinets that came with our 1959 home in Palo Alto, CA. The cabinets were PINK and infuriating in that the slides were falling apart and galling. Meaning the metal was smearing and leaving flecks on our dinner ware. Aluminum is considered a soft metal.

    If yours haven’t degraded yet that’s great. Keep the roller drawer slides lubricated and they should be fine. Anyways, once we saved up some cash we remodeled the entire house and the wall cabinets went to the garage for reuse 🙂 The base cabinets ended in landfill/recycling.

    If anyone has the clips to support the shelves inside the cabinet, I’d be interested in purchasing. I misplaced them when I moved the cabinets 🙁

    1. Susie Chapin says:

      Any idea where I can find these cabinets? I have a van which I’m converting into a camper van and would love a vintage kitchen. thanks.

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