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12 vintage refrigerators — from rare to wacky to sublime!

vintage GE refrigeration centerIn my recent guide to buying a retro refrigerator, buying vintage was tip #6. That prompted me to look through lots of stories in our archives and put together this roundup of 12 vintage refrigerators. Spanning 1934 to the mid-1970s, these vintage refrigerators are marvelous, wacky, classic, or rare — chosen to taste some of the coolest kitchen appliances that American had to offer. Above: the incredible GE Refrigeration Center

GE Refrigeration Center:

This amazing kitchen appliance has a wall-hung refrigerator and freezer on top and presumably, a refrigerator and freezer drawers on the bottom. In between are the famous GE Cabinettes. The GE Refrigeration Center is #1 on my list as the most amazing refrigerator ever. Yet, still, 13 years into blogging, I’ve still have not seen or heard of one in the wild. Sigh. 

GE 1955 Wall Refrigerator:

GE wall refrigeratorWe have seen many “magnificent” GE Wall Refrigerator-Freezers, although none that I recall still in working order. Bueller? Bueller? This remarkable refrigerator — which presents like a set of kitchen wall cabinets — was introduced in 1955. I will presume it pre-dated the GE Refrigeration Unit, although I don’t know for sure. More photos and images about this GE wall fridge here.

Revco Built-in Refrigerators:

vintage revco refrigerator in a kitchen with st charles steel kitchen cabinetsRevco made built-in refrigerator and freezer units that I’m sure were pretty high-end brand. In the photo above, the refrigerator and freezer are shown with St. Charles Steel Kitchen cabinets, the creme de la creme. I have a complete catalog of Revco refrigerators from 1956 – so fun to ogle! 

The 1953 Kelvinator Foodarama:

kelvinator food arama refrigerator
Fun fact: The Kelvinator Foodarama gets a shout-out in the big profile of the blog in the New York Times in 2011. I also heard Mrs. Maisel mention it in Season 1! Same diner scene where you can spot Wilsonart Betty laminate on the tables!

Are we having fun yet? I am! Above: Greg and Tammy’s 1953 Kelvinator Foodarama, which Greg had painted safety red. They purchased it from its original owner, and I’m thinking it was in original working condition. See more great photos of the Kelvinator Foodarama — including its amazing interior features here

1957 Philco Refrigerator:

1957 philco refrigerator
I selected this 1957 Philco refrigerator for this story not because it was unusual — but because it was prototypical. I bet GE sold millions of these. This basic size, scale, and design also were common among other market leaders — like Amy’s Westinghouse, just below. Reader Will submitted it in our 2012 uploader and reported that it still works great:

My 1957 Philco Refrigerator and 1950 Frigidaire that are my daily drivers in my kitchen. – Will

A 1941 Westinghouse Refrigerator in Continuous Operation for 76 years:

vintage refrigerator in constant use since 1941

Indeed, these old refrigerators are work horses. Above, that’s Amy’s 1941 Westinghouse refrigerator, which has been in constant operation in the same family since it was purchased. At the time the story was published, that was 76 years and going strong! 

1964 GE Americana Refrigerator Freezer:

General Electric Americana refrigeratorBy 1964, GE was giving us a somewhat less ambitious version of their earlier Refrigeration Center. This one is called the GE Americana Refrigerator Freezer, and we have lots of photos and the paperwork, too. This beauty has an ingenious built-in counter area that lights up, and there’s an easy-access electric plug, too — handy!

1967 Limited Edition Sears Coldspot Designed by Sundberg Ferar:

1967-ltd-edition-Sears-Coldspot-by-Sundberg-FerarThe 1967 limited edition Sears Coldspot designed by Sundberg Ferar seems pretty rare. It even came with an inscribed nameplate for the buyer. Flora was one lucky lady! This photo of the Sundberg Ferar design came from reader 52PostnBeam via a 2012 uploader.

1970s Poppy Red Frigidaire Refrigerator:

poppy red 1970s refrigeratorYa gotta love the ’70s. Avocado green and harvest gold appliances were rocking American kitchens big-time. On the other hand, this poppy red color on refrigerators, stoves and dishwashers was pretty rare — chosen by truly adventurous decorators. I think. 

1938 Hotpoint Refrigerator:

Alli's-1938-HotpointNow, dialing back in time, here’s what the inside of refrigerators looked in the 1930s. Simple. Functional. Beautiful. Solid. This one is Alli’s, also from our uploader.

1934 White Seal Ice Box:

1934-White-Seal-Ice-BoxFinally, I couldn’t resist: Chutti’s gone old school — or at least, for collecting purposes — with her 1934 White Seal Ice Box

Want to see more rare vintage kitchen appliances:

  1. Phil Queeno says:

    We have a 1957 GE wall refrigerator in our original St. Charles vintage kitchen. We use it on a daily basis!

  2. Audrey Walker says:

    I picked up a 1953? coldspot supermart fridge. everything inside is intact, watermelon shelf and butter warmer. Love these old fridges!

  3. Leslie says:

    I keep finding old ice cream recipes that tell you to freeze the ice cream in a refrigerator freezing tray.

    What’s a freezing tray? I assume it’s a tin or aluminum tray of some sort, but how big is it? How deep? I’ve been trying to find something about it but haven’t had much luck, so I thought perhaps one of you retro kitcheneers might know!

    1. CarolK says:

      Leslie,

      It’s the aluminum ice cube tray. You’ll need to take the divider that forms the cubes out before you pour the mixture in. Even though most modern fridges have ice makers have ice cube trays not all do and might be able to find a tray at an appliance store if not an antique shop. You can also use an aluminum 9×5 loaf pan for the recipe.

  4. Sandy says:

    I have an old GE bubble top refrigerator i would like to restore
    Would need a new wiring unit to make it safe
    I really don’t know where to get parts or guidance for my project but I love this old refrigerator
    Any help would be greatly appreciated

  5. LeAnn Noone says:

    We lucked out and found a 1940 GE Christmas model fridge; it still runs and has very little damage, but is missing the baskets and shelves inside. Where could we find replacements?

    1. Pam Kueber says:

      Hi LeAnn, I see these for sale on ebay and other such places sometimes. You might also find luck with local sites (craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, etc.) for salvage/replacement parts. Finally, you could reach out to companies that refurbish old refrigerators to see if they have advice or carry parts.

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