“Pullman kitchens” and this vintage Douglas Crestlyn drainboard sink

crestlyn-vintage-drainboard-sinkToday we add yet another stainless steel drainboard sink to our collection of rare vintage kitchen sinks. It’s an 8′-long Douglas Crestlyn drainboard sink for sale in Dallas — and interestingly, it was likely part of a large and longtime phenomenon called “pullman kitchens.”

Douglas-Crestlyn-kitchensFrom the listing:

If you have been looking for that special piece to finish your retro kitchen remodel, look no further!

Douglas-Crestlyn-trademarkSelling vintage Douglas Crestlyn 1950’s / 60’s stainless steel countertop, sink with double drain boards. This is a very rare and unique piece as it was the largest countertop/sink combo made by Douglas Crestlyn and marketed with a lifetime replacement guarantee. It is in good condition for its age as it only has two small dings on the right side near the backsplash. The underneath metal supports are a little rusted but does not diminish the overall quality. Dimensions are: 8′ long, 2’deep with 4″ backsplash. Sink bowl is 16″ x 20″, 7.5″ deep. Made of 20 gauge stainless steel polished to #4 satin finish. Double drain boards are grooved and have a positive 3/8″ pitch from countertop ends toward bowls.

Crestlyn-sink-brochureAlong with the sink, I have the original “Douglas Crestlyn Efficiency Kitchens and Stainless Steel Sink Top” catalog. The original company catalog is included in the price and would top off your retro kitchen renovation and be a centerpiece conversation item to proudly frame in your kitchen.

Crestlyn-efficiency-kitchensIt appears that the Douglas Crestlyn Company specialized in efficiency kitchens — aka pullman kitchens, with the name coming from Pullman train cars named after George Pullman. Pam found this 1982 story in the New York Times that talks about all-in-one pullman kitchens.

Here on Retro Renovation, the GE Wonder Kitchen introduced in 1955 is the most famous example of a pullman kitchen. Isn’t is SO INTERESTING to connect these historic dots!

douglas-crestlyn-sinks-vintageThe features of Crestlyn stainless steel drainboard sinks as listed in the brochure above are:

  • Sanitary seamless bowl — no germ collecting joint.
  • Pitched drainboards to assure positive draining.
  • Eliminates sink top replacement and maintenance. Will not chip, rust, burn or stain.
  • Protects china and glassware against breakage.
  • Ideal with garbage disposer — Unaffected by vibration.
  • Blends with any color scheme — Grows more beautiful with use.
  • Fits most undersink cabinets — Ideal for remodeling or new construction.

Does anyone know anything more about Douglas Crestlyn, based in Fort Lauderdale? Shaun writes:

I was intrigued by the company as I was doing reference for value on my sink. However I was unable to find anything about the company. It appeared that they were a very large company as they had several lines of product but then seem to just quickly go out of business in the 80s. Therefore, I was just wondering if you had any additional information on the company.

Mega thanks to Craigslist seller Shaun for allowing us to feature the photos of his fabulous sink and vintage brochure.

Readers, do you have a pullman kitchen in your home —
or do you remember these from the past?

  1. TenantProof says:

    Syracuse Health Science Center had one of these 3 in one units still in use in 1996 in their studio dormitory housing.

  2. dtrix says:

    Thank you for posting! I did a quick search when we bought our 1950’s ranch and didn’t find much either. We have the Douglas Crestlyn double drain board and double sink pictured in the top left of the last picture (with Geneva cabinets). i LOVE mine. Shaun i would be interested in catalog if you end up separating the two.

  3. Kristin says:

    When I was young and starting out around circa 1999/2000, me and my sweetie pie rented a studio apartment in Van Nuys California- with those efficiency kitchens in all of them. I remember the Cresslyn brand stamp on it, it was all metal and a burnt orange/rust color and just gorgeous. It was a complete deal- oven, stove, sink and cupboards all in one unit. I wonder if that apartments still have those cool units in them.. it was good times. The first time I turned it on, I smelled a sickening odor of what smelled like dead animal mixed with burning hair. I sensed something out of the corner of my eye.. tens upon tens of cockroaches in varying degrees of burning skittering, crawling, and limping their way in all directions out of the stove. I lost my appetite and vowed to never use the stove again.

  4. Shaun says:

    Thanks for mentioning my vintage Douglas Crestlyn sink and the Craigslist listing. I hate to see it go but will not be re-using it anytime soon. Would rather see it go to a good home than stay in my barn. I am honored that in some way it has been used to relive some of those special moments we all treasure.

  5. Alexia says:

    I had a Pullman kitchen in my first apartment. This was in the 90s but I’m guessing the building dated to the 50s. It was kind of quaint but, quite frankly, if you like to cook these things are terrible. About 12″ of counter space, couldn’t even fit a full-sized roasting pan or cookie sheet in the oven.

    Makes sense in a studio apartment in NYC, but mine was a 1BR in WI and the space allotted for the kitchen could have accommodated a full galley kitchen. Only thing I can think of was that it was near campus and perhaps the builders thought student renters wouldn’t be doing much cooking (which most probably weren’t, but I love to cook).

  6. Lisa Compo says:

    That is a darling story Mary Elizabeth. I always love the contributions you post here, full of factual details but also sentimental heartwarming stories of days gone by. I think you are right about us RR people being sentimental about things…we do have an appreciation for the value of older things and the silent stories they hold. Like my odd idea of if the old stoves could talk.. how many intimate conversations they have “heard” and the wonderful meals and birthday cakes they have made over the years. What is it we say “crazy in a good way?” 😉

    Anyway, a few weeks ago we met a man at a reuse type store who had a picture of a sink very much like this he was willing to sell us. He hasn’t called us back yet, but where would we look for the logo if we saw the sink? Where is the Douglas Crestlyn imprint located on the piece? We’ll definitely snap it up if it is indeed one of these. Thanks if anyone knows.

    1. Shaun says:

      The Douglas Crestlyn name plate is there on the front edge in the middle of the sink, or at least that is where it’s located on my vintage Douglas Crestlyn. Hope you have one!!

  7. midmichigan says:

    Cool sink but sometimes something that old isn’t in “presentable” condition due to damage from use or misuse. I found an old 3 compartment SS sink a while back and it had a few bad dents and lots of scratches from over the years. I took it over to my cousin’s body shop and after some work he made it look great. So if you come across a great find that’s not in real good shape, there is hope.

  8. Mark says:

    Oh WOW – looks like this was made here in Washington, DC. We have never had much of a manufacturing base in this town, so this was a surprise. I’m “collecting pieces” for an upcoming/planned re-do in my little galley kitchen. You need a full size kitchen for this piece, but what an addition it would make. THANKS for posting.

    1. Mary Elizabeth says:

      Yes, and did you notice the old postal zone: Washington 17, D.C.? That places the date of the publication between 1943 (when postal zones were established) and 1963 (when the Post Office’s zip code system came in). Keep that in mind when dating a pamphlet from the mid-century period. I wonder if the manufacturing plant was actually in DC or if only the corporate office was there.

  9. Tim says:

    Loved that memory you shared. It could be developed into a full novel or at least a short story. Thanks for sharing about your Grandma Danny.

  10. Mary Elizabeth says:

    These kitchens bring back great memories for me. My great-grandmother (born 1889) lived alone in her two-room Queens, New York apartment from the time my great-grandfather died in the early 1950s until she was 93 years old. She was an artist who designed greeting cards for the former Norcross Company.

    Grandma Danny, as we called her, had one of the Pullman kitchens similar to the one shown on the first page of the Crestlyn catalog, but I don’t know whether it was Crestlyn or GE. It was all hidden in a closet behind folding louvered doors in her all-purpose living room/dining room/kitchen/guest room. There was no dishwasher or washer/dryer, but it had an under-counter refrigerator.

    When I would visit her as a child, I would love to ask her to make me tea or cocoa so I could see the tiny stove working. It seemed like a doll’s kitchen to me. When I was in college in Manhattan and she was in her 80s, I would ride the train out to Queens a couple of times a semester, and she would cook me Sunday dinner–a roast, potatoes, vegetables, and a salad–in her tiny closet kitchen. I’d offer to help wash the dishes afterwards, but she would say, “I’d rather sit with coffee and visit with you and do the dishes after you go.” Then she’d clear the table, put everything in the sink and close the door. Sometimes after dinner she was still full of energy, so we would get on the train and ride back into Manhattan and visit a museum. Her favorite was the Guggenheim and mine was the Cloisters.

    1. Erin in Ohio says:

      “I’d rather sit with coffee and visit with you and do the dishes after you go.”

      Grandma Danny sounds awesome. Thanks for sharing.

      I love how retro-renovating posts and comments often encourage fond memories.

      1. Janet in CT says:

        My thanks too, Mary Elizabeth. As Erin just said, this site brings back many a fond memory. I am very sentimental and I just loved your story about Grandma Danny! I think we are alike in many ways.

        1. Mary Elizabeth says:

          Thanks all of you. Yes, I think many of us on this site are a sentimental bunch, which may be why we see value in old things and are attracted to time capsule houses old appliances. And my tastes were formed by the elders in my family, too. Visits to the Guggenheim with Grandma Danny introduced me to modern art–Andy Warhol, Klee, Schnabel, etc. She was very up-to-date.

    2. Jay says:

      Beautiful Story! Thanks for sharing. I would imagine at one time these efficiency kichenettes were installed in a lot of residential hotels or apt. houses with one room apartments. I don’t imagine these would go over very well these days. My last kitchen was only big enough for a 20″ stove, apt. fridge and small counter w/sink but I cooked in it all the same without any problems.

    3. Robin, NV says:

      What a touching story! Thank you for sharing. I love Grandma Danny’s graceful way of excusing you from doing the dishes. I like that the story also illustrates that what we want and what we need are two very different things. Obviously her tiny kitchen was more than sufficient for her needs.

    4. Pat Wieneke says:

      What a wonderful memory of your grandmother in Queens.

      My grandmother lived in a tiny appartment that was a room with a murphy bed and a ‘closet’ that opened out to be a tiny ‘camp kitchen” as we called it. She had a sun porch or sleeping porch, too, and even though it was colder than heck, she slept out there when we went to see her at Christmas one year. Of course, she had three grandkids and a dog to help warm her up.
      She had to share the bath with the others on that floor. That freaked my 4 year old mind and I would only ‘go’ if she or my mom came with me, stood against the obscured glass door and sing with their fingers in their ears so they couldn’t hear me pee. My dad always said she moved into the little house she had been renting out till it was paid off because she didn’t want to go through all the rig a ma rol to get me to go potty.

      1. Robin, NV says:

        Oh my goodness, that’s hilarious. My grandparents lived on a ranch in central Oregon in the mid 1970s. My cousins and I used to spend summers with them. There was no room in their tiny house for 4 kids, so we stayed out in their travel trailer. We had to use the outhouse for a potty and my cousins would scare to me to death by telling me rattlesnakes lived in the outhouse. That, and the coyotes howling in the background, meant that I spent a few nights squirming in bed, desperate for the potty. I’d say my grandparent’s house was, at best, 600 sq. ft. but we had so much fun there! Sadly, my uncle bought the property from them in the 1980s and turned it into a palatial monstrosity.

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