Assistant Archivist’s Desk #4: Vintage GE Refrigerator

In my continued ventures documenting the collection of the Miller House Museum, my most recent work has seen my diving into the history of GE appliances. The refrigerator which sits in the kitchen of the Miller House is a General Electric Monitor Top refrigerator. First introduced in 1927, these models were the first affordable consumer grade electric refrigerators. Costing just $300.00 (roughly $4,700 dollars in today’s money), families could even have a monthly payment plan implemented directly into their utilities bill. The design remained relatively constant throughout the years, with the most popular configuration being a single door chest upon 4 legs. The main changes came in the condenser unit at the top. Originally they were cylindrical, until the 1930’s, when a brief but intriguing spherical unit referred to as a “Globe Top” began being offered. Allegedly this allowed for easier cleaning around the edges of the unit. This was eventually overtaken in 1937 by the flat top models, which returned to the original cylindrical shape, though now in a more compact form factor.

Perhaps most puzzling though are the “Square Top” designs. Little information about them can be found online, though its generally thought that they were produced in the mid 1930’s. The one on display at the Miller House is of this configuration. The next time you come visit, be sure to have a look!

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