7 odd & inventive home features from 1954 — like an island type drainboard sink

1954 american standard sink with strange porcelain drainboard designIsn’t this the most strange — yet wonderful — and I bet, very rare — drainboard sink that we have ever seen? It’s the Midway sink from American Standard, and it appears to have been introduced in 1954. Oh glorious day to see one in its natural habitat in the wild. Does anyone out there have one? Has anyone out there seen one? Bueller? Bueller? Read on for 6 more wonderful mid century oddities –>

vintage drainboard sink with strange design drainboard locationThe photo appears pixelated and gray here, that’s because it was quite small, and I scanned it at high resolution.  Here is more information from the advertisement:

Midway Sink: This new, island-type sink-and-cabinet combination saves steps and time. The 44″ x 37.5″ cst iron sink has two deep bowls and spacious drainboard. Exclusive new fitting permits one-hand operation. Steel cabinet opens both front and back… has electrical outlets on both sides.

1954 american standard company informationHere is the American-Standard corporate information also featured in the ad page. Interesting to note that by 1954, American-Standard also owned Church (toilet) Seat and (plastic wall) Tile.

vintage recessed metal shoe rackNow here’s what sounds to be a great idea to fill in space between interior wall studs in a closet: A metal recessed shoe rack.

odd features in 1950s housesHere is the ad from Leigh Building Products that includes the recessed shoe storage. To get to my count of 7 wonderful oddities — aka “woddities” — I’m also calling out the dust chute, the package receiver and the garbage container, which, I believe, was meant to hand in the inside of your kitchen cabinet door underneath the sink.

a medicine cabinet with a door that slides upwardsThis Tu-Vue medicine cabinet has a door that rolls upward to open. I don’t quite understand the marketing copy. Is one of the mirrors a magnifying mirror?

vintage recessed telescoping wall heaterLastly, an interior heater that seems to sit recessed between wall studs — but it also telescopes to the exact wall thickness. I also find it interesting that this is “engineered for all gases.” I am accustomed to seeing heaters like this that are electric — but ones that run on natural gas or propane? I don’t get that. Bueller? Bueller?

Can you believe that I found all of these woddities in one magazine, one issue – July 1954? The postwar period, and especially the 1950s, I think, was booming with technological  innovation. I love to see these wonderful oddities that clearly, did not find success in a mass market but which showcase the inventiveness in America then. And you know what — I think we are still a nation of incredible inventiveness today. Yes, I do! The headlines are all doom, gloom, controversy and confrontation, but we Americans are a hard-working and optimistic people. We make things happen and get things done with spirit.

  1. Mark E says:

    So easy to design with! The countertop material, the sink model AND its position are all pre-selected for us! Even the electrical outlets are included! No pesky posts-corbels-wainscot panels-or bun feet..


  2. philq says:

    I have something more elaborate than the Midway Sink. It is a “General Chef” combination sink, refrigerator, stove and oven. There were originally two installed in my guest house but only one remains (currently not in use). Maybe – someday – I may get it restored!

  3. Tisha says:

    I have a package receiver in my 1953 kitchen (right next to the back door)! It’s just a door on the outside and one on the inside, which is exactly the width of the wall. I was considering cleaning it up and leaving it metal, but I might have to paint it, as the ad shows it.

    And Jay, in Denver, we have home milk delivery…but it goes to a cooler that sits on your porch. How much cooler would it be if they’d put it in my package receiver instead?

    And here I was thinking that my house was probably behind the times (being Denver and not a coast) with it’s coved ceilings. Guess not!

  4. Terri says:

    I wouldn’t mind several of those recessed shoe racks — especially in the space-challenged closets of my kids’ rooms. Also want Leigh’s door awning.

  5. Alison Marie says:

    Those wall heaters are common in 40s and 50s apartments throughout Southern California. They run on the same gas a modern furnace uses, supplied by So Cal Gas…..and I have seen the shoe racks built into lots of area homes here too….they seem to go hand in hand with ironing board cabinets and milk doors. I would love a dust chute in my 1945 house!

  6. Lindsay says:

    My husband and I recently purchased a 40s home w/ the built-in shoe racks listed above. They are fantastic! High-heeled shoes look absolutely adorable in them.. which creates the terrible problem of needing to stock the closets with cute heels.

  7. Melanie says:

    I can’t believe I missed this post until now. I had that exact same wall heater in this house when we moved in. Horrible, noisy, smelly and inefficient by today’s standards. It ran on propane. I took it out after we got the electric cove heat installed. Now I have this hole in the wall…..

  8. matt says:

    seen on the one page for leigh the through wall package door. actually seen a few homes that have them, 50% of the people had no idea what it was.

  9. JKM says:

    My grandparent’s house in Texas (built in 1949) had tall wall heaters like that in one bedroom (why not in the other two?) and a small den. They had a floor furnace in the living room and ceramic wall heaters built into the tile walls of both bathrooms, which were the only heat sources in the house and all ran on natural gas (had to be started with matches). It didn’t get too cold where they lived but the house would still get cold at night in the winter. As a child used to central heat & air, I remember being scared of the heaters for, with the lights out, you could see the pilot light and hear them firing up as they cycled on. The metal cabinets would also pop as the metal expanded and heated up.

  10. LRBaker says:

    I see the in-wall shoe racks all the time in the larger houses in Sun City, AZ! I usually have to tell people that’s what they are. I have seen them in houses built as late as the 1960’s & 1970’s!

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