Until I wandered through the Hoosier Cabinet Museum at Coppes Common in Nappanee, Indiana, I don’t think I’d really appreciated how cleverly-designed Hoosier cabinets were.
Hoosier Cabinet Features
There were so many different optional features to be found in a Hoosier cabinet’s design:
- A flour bin/sifter combo, which you would place a bowl under to catch the sifted flour
- A sugar sifter and/or storage unit for granulated sugar
- Racks and compartments for rolling pins, measuring spoons, etc.
- Hooks for pots & pans
- Pull-out bread boards
- Bread boxes, and sometimes a spot where you’d leave dough to rise
- Pull-out storage bins other pantry staples
And if it was a really deluxe model, it might also have a writing desk, or collapsible ironing board. Some even had built-in ant traps. (Which actually seems kinda gross…)
Why are they called Hoosier cabinets?
Though there is debate as to which Indiana company first made the cabinets, most were made in Indiana, The Hoosier State. Some believe the name comes from the Hoosier Manufacturing Company, who came up with the idea for these cabinets, hence the name. They were also located in Indiana, so it seems somewhat of a moot point.
Hoosier cabinets were made in Indiana and quickly grew in popularity. Researchers estimate there were at least 40 companies in northern Indiana making them in their heyday. The community of people there, Amish craftsmen and Dutch immigrants, provided the workers for this modern kitchen commodity in the early 1900’s.
The Coppes Commons Museum Collection
Inside the Coppes Common building in Nappanee, Indiana you’ll find dozens of Hoosier cabinets displayed. The Coppes company that produced the Coppes Napanee Kitchenettes and the Napanee Line of furniture dates back to 1876. Now the building contains bakeries and other shops and artisan stalls, but upstairs is a museum where patrons are free to wander back in time.
Hoosier Cabinet Antiques
As I started to mention seeing the Hoosier cabinets on the second-floor free museum at Coppes Common, I started to hear from people who fondly remembered Hoosier cabinets in their homes. They remembered the one grandma had, or the one they picked up at an antique store because it reminded them so much of their past. The cabinets evoke a nostalgia that so many of us want to possess in our homes; a reminder of the ways things used to be. A reminder of kitchens, and baking, and home.
Can you imagine using a Hoosier cabinet instead of the enormous countertops and kitchen islands we use now?
I can, a little. I can imagine its usefulness in some tiny apartments today. Or tiny homes. I think I’d prefer it to the generic space-saver designs of RVs and campers that provide little more than the ledge space of a Hoosier cabinet. Those modern micro-kitchen spaces can never compare to the functional beauty of these bygone cabinets that undoubtedly thrilled the “modern housewives” of the time. Something a happy homemaker would have wanted to show off back then.
Hoosier cabinet envy. Hhmmm… I’ll bet that was a thing.
Do Hoosier cabinets make you nostalgic?