80-Year-Old Stove Still Works
What started as a backyard improvement project became a vintage cottage restoration.
Imagine it's the Roaring Twenties. Down in Chicago, a flapper sneaks into a speakeasy to sip moonshine from a teacup. When the gin joint closes, she changes back into her maid's uniform and rides the train back to the safety of Highland Park, where her weekly pay includes lodgings in a cottage tucked into her employer's back yard.
Most of these cottages have been torn down over the years, but Joe Gibson and his wife decided to restore theirs to its original glory. That included a vintage white and green enamel Roper brand stove. The couple is selling it for $199.
"I'm letting it go because once we started fixing up the cottage, we fell in love with the place. We wanted everything to fit the period," said Gibson. "[The stove] looked perfect. It's amazingly sturdy, but it needs a lot of love."
The eggshell enamel oven/stove combo hearkens back to a time before people proudly displayed their kitchen gadgets. The marbleized green top folds down to cover the burners and double as prep space. Half of the oven is storage drawers to tuck unsightly pots and pans away from the eyes of gentlemen callers. The top and bottom are graced with hand-painted matching green trim.
All four gas burners on the 80-year-old stove still work. But moving it from the cottage to your home could change that if you're not careful.
"Moving this thing around, getting it in place, hooking it up -- it's not like a modern stove. It's great for tinkerers. When you set it up, you have to finagle it so it's seated right and you're getting the proper flame," he explained. "A home mechanic or someone who really loves to see how things actually work would love it, but it's not something you can just buy and plug in."
The vintage stove was built to last a lifetime. Gibson said it could outlast whatever building housed it. "Someone who loves that period and wants a really authentic look can get good use out of it."
Gibson suggested using it as a kitchen island, but seemed troubled by the thought of not using the the still-functioning stoves.
"In some ways it'd be a shame, since it's still working, but I think it'd be a cool reuse of something like this."
You can find the oven on Craigslist.