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Collection Tier:
Tier 2

Food ➔ Refrigerator

White Leonard Refrigerator model # SL-R, 115 voltage, 60-cycle with part #1152240.;The Leonard brand not only originated locally, in the form of highly successful 'ice boxes', but also represents one of the original steps into the development of the common refrigerator of today. Charles Leonard, son of pioneer Heman Leonard is viewed as the grandfather of refrigeration in the US.;Has a certificate that might indicated it was produced in 1931.
1930 – 1940
Current Location Status:
In Storage
In Memory Of Frederick & Beatrice Hilgeman
Sandra Tyler

Andrea Melvin

Leonard Refrigerator Company
Leonard Refrigerator Co. developed as an outgrowth of a manufacturing business established by Herman Leonard in 1845 and later assumed by his sons, Charles H. and Frank E. In 1880 Charles, having an inventive mind, decided to help end the problems and inconveniences of contemporary refrigerators by designing on which would save ice and could be kept clean. He took out a parent on a dry-air, self-circulating, internal=ventilating refrigerator and was granted a patent in 1882 for removable flues. For the first two years the refrigerators were manufactured at the William A. Berkey factor and later moved to a new factory established at the sight of the old gas works between Ottawa and Market Avenues. Later the company bought 26 acres on Clyde Park Avenue, where it remained for most of its operating years. The crockery and refrigerator units of H. Leonard and Sons formally separated in 1893.

The Leonard Refrigerator Co. became recognized for its innovative product line and its emphasis on the “cleanable” refrigerator. They were granted a copyright for the use of the word “cleanable, “and also adopted the slogan, “Like a clean dish.” The company held many patents for its designs and developments in refrigeration. IN 1918 a joint effort by Leonard and Kelvinator produced the first cabinets designed for electric household refrigerators.

In 1926 Electric Refrigerator Corporation of Detroit bought three refrigerator manufacturers under its domain – Nizer Corporation, Kelvinator Corporation, and Leonard Refrigerator Co. Together they became the largest refrigerator manufacturer.

Leonard was to continue its own refrigerator line as well as supply Nizer and Kelvinator with models which those corporations did not manufacture for themselves. In 1931 the Leonard ice box was discontinued, but Kelvinator retained use for the Leonard name due to its association with quality and innovation. The Nash automobile company and Kelvinator merge in 1937, and during the 1930s – 1950s expanded its manufacturing to include an entire range of household products.

White Consolidated Industries bought Kelvinator in 1968 and closed the Grand Rapids plant, still on Clyde Park Avenue, in 1987.

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