Murray steel kitchen cabinets — of Scranton, Pa.

murray-kitchen-cabinetsWe’ve identified 80 different brands of metal kitchen cabinets made back in the day. Today, a new entry in my quest to have at least one feature on each and every brand. Up next: Murray cabinets and cabinet sinks. 

Viewing note: On a desktop, click each photo and it should enlarge on your screen, up to 1000 pixels wide or tall.

murray-steel-kitchen-cabinetsI don’t have a catalog for this one — just a one-page ad. But it tells us that The Murray Corporation of America was based in Scranton, Pennsylvania. ANd, the company also made stoves and ranges.

murray-kitchensThe advertising was fun — typical of the ere including printing limitations, it featured idealistic imagery and text with the typical sales pitch.

murray-3-2I’m also going to try and hone my skills at distinguishing all the brands. The Murrays:

  • Top drawer overhangs bottom drawers or doors
  • Cabinet pulls — chrome pulls with molded recessed area below them. Similar to GE’s.
  • Wall cabinets — no handles, rounded bottom.
  • Whatnot walls units — have metal edge.
  • Kickplate — white.

Who else is going study along so’s we can play my “name that cabinet” game?

Learn more about vintage steel kitchen cabinets in:

  1. Ashley says:

    Our kitchen is a full set of the Murray cabinets and they are covered in rust on the inside what would you suggest to remove said rust? We also want to re-paint once cleaned of the rust but we don’t have much experience with any of this so I’m not sure where to start. Most of the cabinets are great though a couple of them have trouble staying closed as the locking mechanisms are almost all broken but we have a plan to replace those with magnets.

    1. Pam Kueber says:

      Hi Ashley, I am not an expert on these questions/issues. It is advisable that you consult with experts and also be aware that old products can contain hazards, for more info see: https://retrorenovation.com/renovate-safe/

      I have also read, so be aware, that magnets also pose dangers — do your research / get with professionals on this issue as well.

  2. AK says:

    What are my options for new steel kitchen cabinets currently in production? I emailed Bertolini to see if they have a dealer near Seattle, but any other suggestions?

  3. Neil says:

    I have a lot of experience with freestanding steel storage cabinets, both the tall ones and the short, counter-height ones which have a top surface of baked enamel or formica; and the formica on them, if it hasn’t been used up in the line of duty, is usually charming-to-the-uber.

    I’m in the antique/vintage business here in San Francisco, and for 20 years I’ve been buying these individual steel cabinets at estate sales. Until recently they were always dirt cheap, them being so very common, and since, being up to 70 years old (they were built to last, Blanche!) they’ve usually given decades of hard service in a man-cave-ish garage by the time I find them, and are looking quite tired and no longer present their original aura of clean, sanitary, housewifey efficiency.

    But….no problem. All these years I’ve been buying them and cleaning them up, priming the rough places, and giving them a fresh coat of oil enamel inside and out (water-base enamel just can’t come anywhere near mimicing the charm of the original smooth, durable gleam of the original baked finish), nearly always painting them in bright colors that echo the cheery esthetics of bygone decades. And, I can tell you, they’ve sold like hotcakes all these years, going into modern households to offer a second lifetime of charismatic, sunny service, and are especially appreciated in this antique town of Victorian and Edwardian houses who’s kitchens typically suffer from a woeful paucity of built-in storage.

    I’ve seen so many styles and variations and brands of makers over the years, and it’s been delightful to occasionally come across a cabinet I’ve never seen one of before, among all the familiar , reliable repeats. My favorites are from the 30’s and 40’s, made of heavy gauge steel and sporting lots of personality, with their rounded edges and corners and beautiful chrome edging, and gleaming handles and knobs. But then, the short cabinets from the sixties, with their typical gold-speckle formica tops and jet-age handles have their own with-it, sparkling charm, in spite of being finished with gray plastic countertop-edging instead of the earlier chrome.

    And I really enjoy rescuing these shabby, sturdy old friends who’ve supported generations already and have much more to give, and glad to be giving them a new lease on what promises to be an exceptionally long, faithful and reassuring life.


  4. Carolyn says:

    I can’t play the game since the only experience I’ve had with steel kitchens was the stand alone “pantries” and broom closets. In the ’70’s, my mom bought steel cabinets for over the stove from Montgomery Ward because our house was only supposed to be a cottage (built in the 1920’s). I’m pretty sure she re-purposed utility cabinets but, hey! it worked.
    What I’ve liked so far on this site is that stuff was well thought out – tilted drawer faces/cupboard doors or the top drawer overhanging the rest – less mess to clean since it didn’t get on in the first place, and arranging units that made sense. I think I could give a pass on today’s cabinetry even if it was shoddy, if it only made sense!

  5. Robin, NV says:

    It would be interesting to delve into the history of steel cabinet companies. I bet more than a few manufactured steel items for the war effort and then reorganized for the post war boom.

    1. pam kueber says:

      I have a book about Mullins Manucturing — maker of Youngstowns — that talks about how they converted to armament production during World War II. A number of companies existed making cabinets before the war; I assume they all converted to wartime production during the war, that would have been typical.

      Some companies — Republic comes to mind — also were steel manufacturers who branched out to do cabinets.

      1. Robin, NV says:

        My kitchen table and chairs were made by the Tacoma Chair Company probably sometime in the late 1930s or early 40s (judging by the hardware). During the war, the company halted furniture production and made wooden canopy frames for military trucks. From what I’ve been able to research, it looks like they never went back to making furniture, even though the company had been in business for 50+ years.

    1. Stephanie in MD says:

      EEEK! What are the ones with the #14 on them!? That is what I have and the labels are long gone. The house was built in 1946, a teeny tiny Tom Thumb style, very mid century modest, one of the first subdivisions in the country to receive VA loans, so not fancy. Anyone have any idea?

  6. Janet in ME says:

    Sounds like a fun game! I would love that but I don’t know anything about most of them! Funny, I just saw a Murray stove this past weekend while searching Craig’s List and I wondered what it was! I search all over the country for vintage appliances so I don’t remember what state it was in but maybe it was Pennsylvania. By the way, I couldn’t even find the forum link anywhere to spotlight some neat appliances I found.

    1. pam kueber says:

      I discontinued the forum. Usage was sparse. I think that by now, everyone is accustomed to using craigslist, including tools like Search Tempest that can let you search all over.

  7. Reader Deb says:

    I have a white cabinet that’s seen better days in the basement that appears to be a 4 shelf pantry cabinet rather than something for a garage. Has a label inside the door that says Livingston & Co, Philadelphia. Didn’t see that one on your list. Possibly a distributor for someone else? Tried a search and found it listed on Bizapedia as a Pennsylvania Fictitious Name filed on April 1, 1931.

      1. Reader Deb says:

        Yes. Just went down to measure it. 63″ tall including the 3 1/4″ black recessed kickplate, 17 1/2-18″ wide (front sides are rounded), 12″ deep with 4 steel shelves that are not adjustable. Door is 14 1/4″ wide and 56 1/2″ tall, and has a V shaped flat piece with a spring attached on the inside of the door near the chrome vertical handle to keep it closed.

    1. Jay says:

      IN the basement of my last house was a free standing metal cabinet that sounds a lot like the one you are describing. Metal utility cabinets predate the flat packed RTA plastic and particle board cabinets seen in big box stores today. Then, you could buy them in small furniture, hardware and variety stores.

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