The Ultimate Guide To The Iconic Hoosier Cabinet | Retro Anything (2024)

Table of Contents

What Is a Hoosier Cabinet?

A Hoosier cabinet is a type of kitchen cabinet that stands freely and can also serve as a working kitchen. This cabinet’s popularity started in the USA back in the 20th century, mainly because many houses back then never used to have built-in kitchen cabinetry.

This cabinet is quite essential and efficient to use at home, especially if your house lacks a kitchen cabinet. The first and largest company to manufacture this product was the Hoosier Manufacturing Co. from New Castle, Indiana.

This is where the Hoosiercabinet got its name, which became a generic term for this kind of furniture. By the year 1920, the company had sold 2 million cabinets in the United States. The cabinets were also manufactured by other companies, mostly from the Hoosier State or surrounding areas.

The other popular and large companies that also manufactured Hoosier cabinets were Coppes Brothers and Zook, G.I Sellers and Sons, Campbell-Smith-Ritchie, and McDougall Company.

With time, the Hoosier Cabinet evolved with additional accessories and innovations that made them user-friendly for cooking and in the kitchen. However, these cabinets’ popularity has dramatically declined since more houses started, including built-in kitchen cabinets.

The History of the Hoosier Cabinet

The Ultimate Guide To The Iconic Hoosier Cabinet | Retro Anything (2)

The history of the Hoosier cabinet can be traced back to the 20th century, specifically the 1920s and ’30s. These cabinets used to come in handy since most houses didn’t have in-built kitchen cabinets.

Therefore, when you bought this product, it made things quite easier in your kitchen. The popularity of this type of cabinetpeaked in the 1920sbut later on declined as more modern homes began to have in-built kitchen cabinets.

The idea used to create this cabinet was that a worker is as efficient as the workplace he’s using. This cabinet was much more than just a mere storage cabinet. It had storage space, appliances, and many other features that made it worth having in your home.

The Hoosier Manufacturing Co. in New Castle, Indiana, was the first company to create the cabinets and sell them to the public. They sold faster because of their efficiency and problem-solving features for kitchens in homes back then.

In the late 1930s, Hoosier cabinets began declining in popularity because new houses started to include built-in kitchen cabinetry. When this started happening, the cabinets’ sales dropped, and in 1942, the Hoosier Manufacturing Company was sold and liquidated. Hoosier cabinets are only valued by antique collectors nowadays.

Hoosier Cabinet Manufacturers

The first Hoosier cabinet manufacturer was the Hoosier Manufacturing Company. This company brought to light the idea that a unique cabinet can be built and provide significant kitchen assistance.

The company realized that there was a problem in most houses that existed back in the 1900s, and they set out to provide the right solution. The solution they came up with was to manufacture cabinets that would act as built-in cabinetry for homes.

This is why Hoosier cabinets were so relevant and efficient in the early 1900s. The efficiency of the cabinets made a lot of people buy them, and they became quite popular. They were a must-have accessory in every home until new homes started to change that idea by including built-in kitchen cabinets.

Although the Hoosier Company started the idea of this type of cabinet, other companies also made them soon after. Many of which we mentioned earlier, such as G.I. Sellers and Sons, Campbell-Smith-Ritchie (Boone), and the McDougall Company, among others.

Therefore, there wasn’t much competition among manufacturers, and the cabinets were built efficiently by every manufacturer.

Why Is It Called the Hoosier Cabinet?

The name has been tied to Indiana for more than 150 years. There are several theories to the origin of the word Hoosier. The first meaning is that it involves someone yelling, “Who’s there?”

The second theory is that it is believed that there was a man who lost his ear in a bar fight across the river, and then someone picked it up and asked, “Who’s ear?” These two theories sound quite similar to each other.

The Hoosier cabinetgot its name from the state of Indianabecause that’s where they were made. Hoosier cabinets first appeared on the market in 1898, created by the Hoosier Manufacturing Company, which was popularly known for making furniture.

Their popularity grew until the 1940s, when they declined, and the company was sold out and liquidated. They weren’t just basic cabinets, which made them quite unique in every way.

When they first hit the market, they offered the right solution to many households back then since the idea of a kitchen cabinetry hadn’t been implemented in most houses. Therefore, their efficiency is why these cabinets became popular and sold for more than 2 million.

How Do You Restore a Hoosier Cabinet?

A Hoosier cabinet was not just a basic cupboard back in the 1920s. The cabinet included storage staples such as sugar, flour, spices, and workable parts. The workable included meat grinders, spice carousels, nutritional charts, cookbook holders, and grocery list wheels.

Therefore, the cabinet was specially-made to make meal delivery faster since it provided everything you require in one place. The cabinet was designed with PKsurroundings with shelves, spices, jars, staple products, and organizing jars.

The Hoosier cabinet also features a built-in sink with a garbage disposal.

When you buy a Hoosier cabinet that needs to be restored, there are several factors you need to check first. You first need to assess the cabinet to determine the work that should be done and your goals.

Is your Hoosier painted or badly stained? If you have a painted Hoosier and you need it repainted, then you need to find a professional to help you do that – or seek advice on how you can do it.

Suppose you have a painted Hoosier and want it refinished. In that case, it can sometimes be quite tricky since most Hoosiers were painted in the factory and stained originally, and then painted by homeowners. Therefore, it is crucial to first identify the one you have because knowing that makes a huge difference. If you have a factory-painted Hoosier, then it needs to remain painted.

Here are some of the steps you need to take to refinish a Hoosier cabinet:

  1. First, you need to remove the drawers of your Hoosier Cabinet and unscrew the hinges, knobs, and doors. If you’re unable to remove the entries, use a painter’s tape to cover the non-wooden parts.Some cabinets may have glass, and if you have such, you can use the painter’s tape to cover the glass.
  2. Use a paint stripper to paint the wood, and you can also use sandpaper to remove the finishes. Use the stripper to apply it into one section of the wood and then peel off the old finish using a knife.
  3. If there’s any remaining finish left, you can use steel wool to remove it. This will help to smoothen out the remaining rough spaces, but you should avoid using a sanding block.
  4. Take a rag soaked in grain filler to scrub the wood, but if your Hoosier cabinet already has a solid surface, you skip this process.
  5. Take water and apply it to the stained wood using a paintbrush. Use water-based stains since they are more environmentally friendly.
  6. Paint your cabinet with a thin topcoat finish using a paintbrush and even brush strokes. If you want a durable finish, consider Polyurethane ones. You can also achieve the right results with a mixture of water and oil-based paint.
  7. After you are done, you can reassemble the Hoosier cabinet and remove all the tape once the finish dries entirely on every part.

Hoosier Cabinet Styles

The Ultimate Guide To The Iconic Hoosier Cabinet | Retro Anything (3)

Hoosier cabinets came in different styles, but they all included useful features to make your work more manageable in the kitchen. Since different companies manufactured Hoosier cabinets, they designed the cabinets differently to stand out due to competition.

Although each manufacturer produced their designs uniquely, the idea was still the same in all Hoosier cabinets because the cabinet’s main objective was to provide ease in the kitchen. The good thing about these types of cabinets is that you can easily restore or refurbish once you get them and make them new again.

You need to ensure that you purchase a high-quality cabinet to avoid more damages when trying to fix it. The best thing is to check a Hoosier cabinet that was originally designed by the Hoosier Company.

These cabinets tend to have the good quality and are quite durable. Although every Hoosier cabinet designed by other manufacturers also has good quality, it can’t measure up to what the Hoosier Company did.

This was the company that came up with the idea, and that is why their cabinets are efficient and durable. A Hoosier cabinet with a quality wood finish is also an ideal style to consider when planning on buying the cabinet in the market.

How to Identify a Hoosier Cabinet

To identify a Hoosier cabinet, you first need to know about its features to better differentiate it from others. The first thing to look for is the hallmark three-compartment design included in a Hoosier cabinet.

That includes its porcelain workspace, shallow upper cabinet, and deep lower cabinet. A flour sitter is included in the workspace, a sugar bin and glass canisters that you can use for tea, coffee, and spices.

Another thing to identify a Hoosier cabinet is its drawers. Usually, this type of cabinet is properly lined and designed for bread. It would help if you looked for the manufacturer’s stamp. The stamp is usually on the underside or at the back of the cabinet.

The Ultimate Guide To The Iconic Hoosier Cabinet | Retro Anything (4)

Most of the companies produced these cabinets during the depression period. Therefore, you should check the date and year on the stamp that shows the 20th century. This is when the manufacturing of classic Hoosiers was done.

Hoosier cabinets are now antiques that people collect, although durability is one of their stronghold factors. The good news is that it’s easy to identify them since they are classics that aren’t made by companies today.

Where to Buy a Hoosier Cabinet

When it comes to buying a Hoosier cabinet, there are many sellers that you can find on the market. There’s the option of buying from alocal antique shop or online. The good news is that it’s easy to find this type of cabinet in the market, provided you first check for the product’s quality and originality.

The most promising place to buy the cabinet is an antique store. This is where antique collectors mostly find products.

Below are other several places where you can buy a Hoosier cabinet:


Etsy is a marketplace for artists, and it has a vintage section that is thriving. Therefore, if you’re looking for an antique cabinet, this can be a great place to check.


This is an advertising website with an excellent section of antiques. Craigslist is a great place to check for the specific style of cabinet that you want. You can even create an ad asking for someone selling a Hoosier cabinet.


This is an online antique shop where you can find Hoosier cabinets easily. You can also find the glassware that comes with the cabinet and other accessories.


eBay is also a great eCommerce store where you can search for Hoosier cabinets. This online marketplace features all kinds of stuff and can be a great place to source for these cabinets.

What Are Hoosier Cabinets Worth?

So, what’s the value of Hoosier cabinets? This is a question that a lot of people ask. Since this is an antique cabinet, it depends on the one you want to buy or sell. The availability of accessories is also essential when buying or selling the cabinet.

A wooden Hoosier cabinet in perfect condition is worth close to $2,000. However, if the cabinet is not in good condition and requires restoring, it can sell from $200 and above. Therefore, the condition of the cabinet plays a significant role in its price.

The Ultimate Guide To The Iconic Hoosier Cabinet | Retro Anything (2024)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Aron Pacocha

Last Updated:

Views: 6238

Rating: 4.8 / 5 (48 voted)

Reviews: 95% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Aron Pacocha

Birthday: 1999-08-12

Address: 3808 Moen Corner, Gorczanyport, FL 67364-2074

Phone: +393457723392

Job: Retail Consultant

Hobby: Jewelry making, Cooking, Gaming, Reading, Juggling, Cabaret, Origami

Introduction: My name is Aron Pacocha, I am a happy, tasty, innocent, proud, talented, courageous, magnificent person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.