Retro Appliances in the Hills of North Georgia

Retro appliances
A red 1948 O’Keefe & Merritt with a mother-in-law bi-fold lid sits in the showroom of Jowers Appliance. It is surrounded by a copper low back Chambers ($10,000) and a blue high back Chambers.

CLAYTON, GA

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Tucked away on a side street in this mountain town is a treasure trove of restored retro appliances.

  • A 1886 oak ice box that appeared in “The Hunger Games”
  • A gigantic gas stove from a church in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood that’s destined for a château in France
  • A 1903 Great Majestic stove that was hauled in a trailer from Monterrey, Mexico, to the mountains of Georgia.

Jowers Appliance on West Savannah Street is one of the nation’s premier sources for retro appliances. Second-generation proprietor John Jowers is a busy man.

“We probably have 100 contracts on the board right now. Our next available slot for scheduling a restoration is in September of 2015,” he said.

The average time spent on a 100-point stove restoration is 78 hours, a little more for a refrigerator. Prices range from around $7,800 to $18,000.

Retro appliances vs. stainless steel

Retro appliances John Jowers
John Jowers leans against a Magic Chef 6300. On his left is a 1936 Norge with marbleized porcelain finish.

John is no fan of modern-day stoves and refrigerators, even those clad in stainless steel.

“Before 1960 appliances were designed and built with parts that could be serviced and maintained indefinitely. Modern appliances are not. Modern appliances are designed with electronic component parts that are designed with the intent that they fail and when they fail the manufacturer discontinues the part so you have to replace the appliance,” he said.

As for trendy stainless steel, Jowers says, “There’s nothing new about it and it doesn’t do anything to make the appliances work any better. It’s strictly a cosmetic design aspect.”

People who think they are getting the latest by buying stainless steel might be surprised to know that Frank Lloyd Wright homes from the mid-50s featured stainless steel appliances by Hotpoint.

Jowers does not sell new appliances.

Appliances restored by Jowers Appliance can be seen in the Julia Roberts movie “Mona Lisa Smile,” at the Atlanta History Center Swan House, and on the USS Massachusetts in Fall River, Mass.

Apple season is coming soon and many of you will be traveling to North Georgia to see the magnificent fall colors. Do yourself a favor and stop by Jowers Appliance to see these beautiful restorations. The showroom is open from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday-Thursday, closed Friday, and by appointment only on Saturday.

IF YOU’RE HUNGRY, the Dillard House is only seven miles away. Breakfast, lunch or dinner is highly recommended.

Personal experience

Prior to living in my current house, I rented a duplex apartment with a white 1940s gas range in the kitchen. It cooked like a dream. Set the oven to 350° and it stayed exactly at 350. My current stove is a KitchenAid that cooks unevenly and is only accurate within 10 to 20 degrees. It has an electronic panel that doesn’t recognize the number 5 so 350° needs to be entered as 349. Just as John said, when the electronic panel dies there is no replacement, according to KitchenAid.

I told the landlord of the duplex that the antique gas range might be worth the price of a new Viking. He laughed. I heard he dragged it to the curb when he “remodeled” the kitchen with all new Home Depot acquisitions, stainless steel I’m sure. If he reads this, I bet he cries.

 

Retro appliances Hotpoint
This 1926 Hotpoint is destined for the May Patterson Goodrum House, a 1930s Atlanta home designed by classicist Philip Trammell Shutze. The home is located on West Paces Ferry Road and is being restored by the Watson-Brown Foundation. A similar stove was listed at $18,000.

 

Retro appliances 1903 Great Majestic
A family in Monterrey, Mexico, loaded this 1903 Great Majestic stove on a trailer and drove it Clayton. The journey took five days.

4 Responses to Retro Appliances in the Hills of North Georgia

  1. John Pike August 12, 2014 at 6:34 pm #

    Love these old appliances. I can only dream of such, but it’s a pleasant dream.

  2. John Robins August 12, 2014 at 8:12 pm #

    Great story, Doug, about magnificent appliances which in dependability & sheer robustness overshadow completely their insipid, albeit expensive, replacements of today.

  3. T. Gleaton August 13, 2014 at 2:25 pm #

    Doug this is a story plus — it is not just great info on where to find great appliances but one which brings back memories of my youth. Keep the stories/info coming my friend.

  4. Terry Corr August 14, 2014 at 6:54 am #

    Love these, Doug! Ditto, John Pike. I never knew about this place in Clayton.

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