1930 GE Refrigerator

Our 1928 house came with a 1930 GE Monitor Top Refrigerator in the basement, which was a fun addition to the many retro features in the house.

Our 1930 GE Refrigerator, likely original to our house. It reminded us of Disney's Carousel of Progress ride.

It came complete with metal trays, enamel coated trays, and a terrible smell of ammonia.

General Electric tag on the refrigerator.

Without knowing what exactly what to do with this neat old artifact, we decided to just leave it in the basement (it also weighs about one ton) and figure it out later. Unfortunately, Hurricane Irene flooded our basement and took the fridge with her. There was no way to get all of the river mud and silt out of its intricate parts, so we sadly had to send it away with the rest of the flood debris. Aside from the gravity coal furnace, this is the one object I am most upset about losing to the flood.

One day while shopping in an antique/toy/gift store in town, we came across this vintage ad for the same GE Refrigerator that we had in our basement. It looked identical. We had to have it for a sentimental memento, as well as for the entertainment value of the advertisement.

1930 GE ad.

The text of the ad is classic 1930: “Why hesitate to suggest to your husband the gift you long for most? … The refrigerator with the Monitor Top – as distinguished in its modern beauty as in its splendid record of economical performance – what a glorious gift for any woman to receive!”

While the ad plays to outdated domestic roles, it also speaks of what an economical and efficient gift this is. People are concerned with appliance noise, cost, payment plans, appearance, convenience and of course finding good gifts for mothers and wives. Perhaps it is not so different from today’s advertisements and domestic concerns.

13 thoughts on “1930 GE Refrigerator

    • Kaitlin says:

      Well, it’s an ongoing process of cleanup. It took a few weeks to get clean and now we’re waiting on the furnace and a new basement floor. A work in progress, but it could be much worse!

    • John Hlumyk says:

      Its the round contraption on top of the fridge cabinet that houses the motor, compressor, etc. I had always thought that the term was a later moniker that evolved organically as people were exposed to these devices. Judging by the advertisement, it appears to have been associated with them all along.

  1. ANTIQUENUT says:


  2. Sharon says:

    I have the same GR frig in mint condition and still keeps the beers really cold! Just have to defrost the ice tray from time to time but still purrs like a kitten! Sorry for your loss! We are thinking of selling ours. My mom house the house for sale. Where would I try to sell this one ton bear? Any thoughts? Sharon

  3. cablehack says:

    That would have been quite repairable. The Monitor Top refrigerators are hermetically sealed so no mud or water can enter the mechanism. In fact, one early ad shows a DR Monitor Top being immersed in a river and continuing to run. Essentially, all that would have been required after washing the mud out is to replace the cabinet insulation. By the way, Monitor Top refrigerators did not use ammonia. The DR model shown here uses sulphur dioxide. If anyone requires assistance with their Monitor Top refrigerator, please see the forum http://monitortop.freeforums.net/

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