Belmont Heights Built-Ins

By Maureen Neeley


Here in Belmont Heights, as well as elsewhere in Long Beach, older homes may still retain odd built-ins, niches, doors or buttons. Those homeowners who weren’t quick to remove them or “upgrade” often enjoy unique assets they never thought they needed. Here are a few of the more unusual ones.

Work Stations

This wall unit contains an iron, ironing board and a shoe shine station on the back porch. Not pictured is a swing-out rack for hanging pressed clothing.

By far some of the most interesting and useful cabinetry was reserved for the kitchen or back porch. Historic kitchens are notoriously small, but there was often built-in shelving that saved space. Studio apartments frequently employed the dog-leg table and bench seats. Kitchens and porches in all homes included an ironing board, attached to its own cabinet, available at the flick of the wrist. There was usually a niche for the hot iron as well, including access for the electrical plug. A shoe shine station could often be found on the back porch (with its shoe storage cousins found in the bedroom closets).


Disappearing Bed Cabinets

Lawrence Holmes patented this clever buffet bed in 1907

Perhaps the most ingenious and surprising built-in are the spots for what were called disappearing beds. A trademarked name was “Murphy Bed,” but that manufacturer was just one of many who created clever spots for extra guests. Dining room buffet? Put a bed in it! Living room closet? Out pops a bed! Passage between dining room and kitchen? Chances are it contained a portable bed where visiting Uncle Mike slept when the lights went out.

Here in Belmont Heights, as well as elsewhere in Long Beach, older homes may still retain odd built-ins, niches, doors or buttons. Those homeowners who weren’t quick to remove them or “upgrade” often enjoy unique assets they never thought they needed. Here are a few of the more unusual ones.


California Coolers

The California Cooler provides ingenious and low-cost storage for beverages, fruits, vegetables and even certain cheeses (www.restoringhistory.com)

The vegetable cooler is perhaps the most under-appreciated compartment ever. Vegetables, fruit, and eggs can be easily preserved in a circulating air cooler. Disguised as just another cabinet, the cooler had a slatted or wire bottom that drew cool air from the basement, crawl space or outside wall and a vented top so warm air could escape. Do you have one in your kitchen? Lucky you!

Milk Boxes

No longer in use, this door was flipped to face the interior. Framing it made it stand out as a piece of art.

Milk boxes were found on the outside wall off the driveway in either the kitchen or pantry, so that milkmen could easily deliver bottles of milk, cream, butter, eggs, etc. into these boxes. Some were simply plain wood, but others were lined with zinc to keep the contents chilled. An occasional order wheel alerted milkmen to what the household needed. Although we don’t have milkmen any longer, these boxes can be a fun conversation piece.


 





129 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All