A Lustron house for sale — and I spy: a renovated kitchen that includes Retro Renovation® by Wilsonart® Rock ‘n Roll Ruby boomerang laminate countertops. It’s so nice to see this yummy red boomerang countertop in this cute historic house! Thanks to Andrea Kubachko of Urban Durham Realty, who has listed this Lustron house for sale in Durham, N.C., and to photographer Jed Gammon of Jed Gammon Photography for permission to use these photos. And thanks to Virginia, who tipped us to this house via our Facebook page.
I’m super into the Lustron story we started yesterday. Recap: Lustron #549 from Arlington, Virginia, disassembled and sent to Columbus, Ohio, where it is being reassembled inside the Ohio Historical Society and will go on exhibit on July 13. Today: A 38 page booklet on the house prepared by Arlington, Virginia — well done! And, professional photos documenting Lustron #549 taken by the U.S. Historical American Buildings Survey (HABS). The way I read the HABS fine print, I am AOK to post these photos ‘cuz we paid for them with our tax dollars. What a lovely record of this now-famous little house in its natural habitat. Above: The bathroom of #549 was in excellent condition. Just a few things (faucet, shower head) were changed. Continue for the 38-page brochure and more HABS photos –>
Big news in Columbus, Ohio, and across retro-world: On July 13, the Ohio Historical Society will open a new exhibit about life in the 1950s that includes an amazing centerpiece: A 1949 Lustron house that has been completely assembled inside the museum. Lustron houses are famed prefabricated houses built from 1948-1950 – notable because they are made almost completely from steel inside and out, including everlasting gobstopper porcelain enamel painted interior and exterior walls and roof.
I spoke recently with Cameron Wood — history curator for the exhibit – and now one of the “World’s Lustron Masters” – so-dubbed because he led the team that has been reassembling this historic little house piece-by-piece-by-gawshdarned piece. We talked all about Lustrons… about reassembling this “Westchester” model… and what sounds to be a terrific new exhibit. Let’s hear all about it, and look inside–>
From Ace & Acme to Yorktown & Youngstown:
Our guide to
80 82 83 84 85 86 …85+ brands of metal kitchen
cabinets made after World War II
The product that started it all — the blog, that is: Vintage steel kitchen cabinets. I wanted to renovate my kitchen. Vintage steel kitchen cabinets entered my consciousness. I went on a five-year quest to find a set. Along the way I also obsessively researched how to put a 1950s-1960s kitchen together. When I was all done, it turned out so well that I started the blog to share what I had learned. In my cabinet-quest, I already had identified many brands of steel kitchen cabinets made back in the day. And in the years since — very often with the help of readers — we have identified 85+ different brands of metal kitchen cabinets built before, during but most after World War II — mostly steel, mostly in the U.S.
Note: In Summer 2019, I began my mega-quest to finish this encyclopedia! Will I be able to stick with it? We’ll see!
First up, please read:
Then dive in:
90+/- brands of metal kitchen cabinets made in the U.S. — pretty amazing, huh!
- Acme Metal Products Corp., Chicago, Illinois, as early as 1938 reference
- See this story with photos of Acme sink base from 1948
- American Kitchens of Connersville, Indiana. Parent company was Avco Manufacturing Company, and the cabinets were produced by their American Central Division.
- Historic bones: Designed by famed industrial designer Raymond Loewy and his company. Faucets for the sink top that went with these cabinets still sold today!
- Six American-brand kitchens from 1953
- The unique American “Pioneer” kitchen with its birch doors, copper drawers — color-styled by (our) famed Beatrice West.
- I do not believe there was any familial relationship between American Kitchens and American-Standard Kitchens. These were two different companies in two different locations and with different cabinets designs.
- 1953 American-Standard steel kitchens catalog
- “Standard” was the original or earlier name of the company (perhaps Standard merged with American? Need to confirm). See this 1938 catalog of Standard kitchen cabinets — in colors!
- Famed industrial designer Walter Dorwin Teague (second reference here) and his company had a relationship with American-Standard Plumbing fixtures; unknown whether they also consulted on cabinet designs.
- Ampco, Rosedale, Mississippi
- I believe these were the same cabinets as Regency. See entry below. The reason: The unique handles are the same source for comparison here.
- Art Metal Cabinets, Jamestown, New York, as early as 1938 reference
- Beautycraft Custom
- Beauty Queen — a subsidiary brand of Toledo Desk & Fixture Corp., Maumee, Ohio
- Belknap Hardware & Manufacturing Company
- Berger, made by Berger Manufacturing of Canton, Ohio, part of Republic Steel Corp. Predecessors were Berloys, and Bergers appear to have morphed into Republics (see separate entries).
- See my Berger Steel Cabinets for Kitchens catalog from 1949. This company was owned by Republic Steel. Berger steel kitchen cabinets may subsequently have been subsumed by Republic Steel Kitchen cabinets.
- Berloy, made by Berger Manufacturing of Canton, Ohio, part of Republic Steel Corp. A predecessor of Bergers, which themselves seem to have morphed to Republics (see separate entries)
- Blietz Construction, Chicago; maybe; (added per spotting by Jim, Sept. 2016)
- Briggs Beautyware
- An early maker with 12 colors as early as 1938! Made by auto body maker Briggs Manufacturing Co. based in Detroit.
- Crane, designed by Henry Dreyfuss, I am pretty sure. I have a brochure from 1936, so this is among the early brands, I think.
- See this 1953 catalog from my personal collection.
- I also have a brochure from 1936 — need to dig it out.
- Dreyfuss shown in catalog next to new 1956 Crane steel kitchens, available in white and four colors, here.
- Crosley — also designed by Raymond Loewy
- Dieterich Steel Cabinet Corp., Chicago, Illinois — as early as 1933. .
- Dupont-Dulux — immediately recognizable for its distinctive streamline moderne design including its die cut sink base doors; probably an early maker. Unclear whether these were branded Dupont or whether that was just the paint finish; more research required.
- Elgin, Elgin Stove Company, Elgin, Illinois
- First shown at 1939 New York World’s Fair. Designed by famed industrial designer Norman Bel Geddes. This photo suggests Bel Geddes also designed Servel’s steel kitchen cabinets.
- A major brand of steel kitchen cabinets — and oh my, how GE innovated in so many related ways, too! I have quite a few stories.
- Precursor was Modern Kitchen Cabinets, both of Geneva, Illinois
- I have many stories about Geneva Kitchen Cabinets, one of the top-three brands
- I have original finish Genevas in my kitchen — they are what lead to the creation of this blog!
- Hallmark Custom Steel Kitchen Cabinets
- Manufactured in Wellsburg, W. Va.
- Steel cabinets, but cabinets made of
- Aluminum kitchen cabinet introduced 1948
- Harrison Steel Cabinet Co., Chicago
- Humphreys Manufacturing
- J&L Steel, likely Jones & Laughlin Steel Co. of Pittsburgh, Pa., (thanks, Chris!)
- I am really thinking Kelvinator made steel kitchen cabinets — see the photo here and here
- Kitchen Kraft
- Kitchen Queen — note, I do not think this is a brand — it is one of the Crane sink base designs that I spotted in my 1956 catalog. But I will leave it here from now just in case.
- Yes, as in Levittown!
- We suspect they made their own steel cabinets for their steel houses. Thanks, Jim!
- Leisure Made
- Majestic Stove Company
- 1923 source found indicating they may had “more elaborate cabinets” than just kitchenets or apartment alcove units — suggests there may have been an early “fitted” kitchen — need to find illustrations! Evolved from Powell, then into Murphy Cabranettes. See this story.
- Marvel Metal Manufacturing Company, Chicago, Illinois
- See 1950 catalog and info. Sold as Westline Steel Kitchen Cabinets by Western Auto Dealers.
- Midwest Mfg. Company, Galesburg, Illinois
- Miller Metal Products, Inc.
- Modern Steel Co., Geneva, Ill.
- Precursor to Geneva Kitchen Cabinets
- Montgomery Ward
- 1941 catalog of Montgomery Ward steel kitchen cabinets
- Later marketed as Signature by Montgomery Ward. Reference.
- Morgan Kitchen Cabinet
- Morhand Kitchens
- Morton, of Libertyville, Illinois, beginning in 1942.
- Murphy Cabranettes, made by Murphy Door Bed Co. and later, Dwyer Products Corp.
- Big story here — the earliest fitted kitchen I’ve validated so far.
- Likely an evolution of Powell and Majestics; then, evolved into Dwyer.
- Olympia Aluminum Kitchen Kabinets, Olympia, Wash.
- Made by Western Metalcraft / Metalware in both aluminum and steel
- Story here.
- Palley Manufacturing Co.
- Paul (U.K.)
- Powell Steel Gas Kitchens
- As early as 1919 — but may only have been kitchenets or unitized apartment alcove kitchens. Sold exclusively by Murphy Bed Door Co. and subsequently renamed Majestic, then Murphy Cabranettes. See this story.
- Regency, Rosedale, Mississippi
- Republic, made by Berger Manufacturing of Canton Ohio, which was part of Republic Steel Corp. Predecessors in this three-sibling family were Berloy steel cabinets and Berger steel cabinets (see separate entries).
- I have several stories about Republic Steel Kitchen cabinets, which seem to have been a well-advertised brand in the 1950s and likely into the 1960s.
- Reynolds — aluminum cabinets, possibly. reference
- Roberts & Mander Corp.
- St. Charles
- I have many stories about St. Charles cabinets. This was the creme de la creme manufacturer. St. Charles seems to have started in 1935 when it bought out Janes & Kirtland, maker of the “White House Line” steel “dressers”. Unclear whether Janes & Kirtland made unitized cabinets; see entry below.
- Sellers Kitchen Furniture, Elmwood, Indiana
- As early as 1939. Reference here.
- Servel, Evansville, Indiana
- This brand had a rare, museum-worthy feature. See my c. 1948 catalog.
- I also believe this brand of steel kitchen cabinets was designed by famed industrial designer Norman Bel Geddes.
- Shirley All-Steel Kitchens and bathroom cabinets
- A brand of Montgomery Ward (see above.) Set spotted in avocado green in Walworth, Wisconsin.
- Later merged with American to become American-Standard
- 1938 catalog including Standard steel kitchen cabinets here.
- Tracy, Tracy Manufacturing Company, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania reference
- Universal-Rundle, New Castle, Pennsylvania
- United Lifetime Kitchens
- United Metal Cabinet Corp./United Metal Box Co., Brooklyn
- Walters Steel-Fashioned Cabinets, Walters Manufacturing Co., Oakmont, Pennsylvania 1954 reference
- Westline Steel Kitchen Cabinets — sold by Western Auto dealer;
- See Marvel Metal Manufacturing Products, the manufacturer, story above.
- White House Line by Janes & Kirtland, St. Charles, Illinois
- Story here
- Importantly, Janes & Kirtland seems to have been bought out by St. Charles in 1935, although it continued with the White House Line for at least a few years. Janes & Kirtland was a longtime maker of ornamental iron and later, “steel dressers” in the vein of Hoosier cabinets. We’ve seen ‘extended’ dressers (1929), but still need to determine whether they made unitized cabinets (the subject of this Encyclopedia.)
- Whitehead Monel
- Wood-Metal Kitchen Cabinets
- Youngstown, made by Mullins Manufacturing Company based in Warren, Ohio
- I have many many stories about Youngstown Steel Kitchen cabinets — without a doubt the most popular brand ever sold in America. One of the stories says that at one time they had some 40 manufacturing plants across the U.S.!
Metal kitchen cabinets made outside the U.S.:
I have not tried to identify steel and aluminum kitchen cabinets made outside the U.S. in the mid 20th Century. But I’ve started capturing them as I see them, including with the help of our wonderful readers!:
- Anemone Kitchen Furnishings (U.K.)
- English Rose (U.K.)(Aluminium)
- Galgo Steel Kitchens and Vanities — Mexico brand see reference here
- Kirby (Australia)
Note: In my compendium, I do not include companies that seemed only to have made single-unit items. That is, some companies made steel hoosier cabinets… some made only a sink base with sink… and companies like Dwyer made apartment kitchen combos. I don’t include these — I want to focus on companies that made complete kitchens with lots of mix-and-match models that you could order in bulk to fill out a typical family fitted kitchen. In this sense, I should probably not include Lustron on the big list above, as it was bespoke only for Lustron houses; I may take out of the list at some point — or perhaps make and put it into a supplementary list along with the other such units described in this section; pondering.
- Our complete steel kitchen cabinet category
- BE SAFE / RENOVATE SAFE — get informed when using vintage products.
- Four places to buy steel kitchen cabinets made new today