Hoosier Excellence: Cabinets

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

Such clever designs!

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.

different-kinds-of-hoosier-cabinet

This looks pretty deluxe!

Inside-hoosier-cabinet

Peek inside, Ladies!

flour-sifter-hoosier-cabinet

This one seems sensible: a flour sifter and a pie safe.

flour-sifter-hoosier-cabinet

I’d be worried about getting this one dirty!

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?

how-can-you-find-antique-hoosier-cabinets

Antique cabinets, but modern in their time.

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?

17 responses to “Hoosier Excellence: Cabinets

  1. There is something beautiful about the simple elegance of Hoosier cabinets. You have offered us a viewing of quite an assortment. Thanks for sharing the experience.

  2. There is something beautiful about the simple elegance of Hoosier cabinets. You have offered us a viewing of quite an assortment. Thanks for sharing the experience.

  3. I love these cabinets and had no idea there was a museum dedicated to them! I’d love to tour this place!

  4. I could see my ex-wife loving Hoosier Cabinets. Anything antique with distress painting on it makes me think of her. Probably not a good baseline for furniture shopping. Ironically, I fell in love with Jenn, in part, because she still had cinder block furniture in her home at 40. To be fair, it’s now in the garage and scheduled for an upgrade at some time, but it’s still with us through the San Diego, Orlando, and Huntsville moves.

  5. I’m a Hoosier by birth Juliann, and although I haven’t lived there since I was 6 years old, I fondly remember Hoosier cabinets. My grandmother had one, and it was an endless source of joy and amusement when I was growing up. Then when James and I first got married, we had one. In fact it was the ONLY cabinet we had in our spartan college rental. I can’t say that the sifter came in too handy in those days, but it was fun conversation started. Great post with excellent photos and memories. 🙂 ~Terri

    • Thanks, Terri! My mom had one in her old country farmhouse (as late as 2011). It just fit there, perfectly. With an old stove, too. They’re so distinctive.
      I hope you get a chance to check them out when you’re back in the Hoosier state. 🙂

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