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Hoosier Cabinet

Hoosier Cabinet & Amish Quilt Museum proposed for landmark
Coppes Napanee brick buildings

In the early part of the 20th century the American housewife's life became easier because of the evolution of the Hoosier Cabinet, a unique piece of furniture that included everything in it but "the kitchen sink." Primitive pie safes, kitchen tables, flour bins, cutting boards, and dough boards were combined into a single functional cabinet. The work top, originally zinc covered, later porcelain enamel, extended during food preparation and stored itself between the cabinet's base and top unit. These units included metal bread drawers, cooking charts, hooks for bills and shopping lists, cookbook holders, spice racks, bracket mounted sugar jars, and large flour sifters. Early cabinets were made of oak, later models of maple, birch and other hard woods. Enamel finishes became popular in the mid-20s. By 1930 millions of Hoosier Cabinets, all but a few made by nearly 40 Indiana companies, were standard equipment in America's kitchens. The largest manufacturers included the Hoosier Cabinet Co., Sellers, McDougall, Boone and Coppes Napanee.

The Coppes Napanee Dutch Kitchenet became famous when Herbert Hoover, then secretary of commerce, commissioned a study of the efficiency of the American kitchen. The results showed that the housewife could save nearly half of her daily steps in the kitchen with a Napanee Dutch Kitchenet.

All of the major Hoosier Cabinet companies were out of business by the end of the Great Depression or World War II. Only Coppes, the oldest by several decades being founded in 1876, is still manufacturing kitchen cabinets in its original location.

Now a proposal is being discussed with the City of Nappanee, the Redevelopment Commission, the Nappanee Public Library, and the Nappanee Development Corporation to create an appropriate museum to reflect the city's heritage. A exploration and planning workshop was held in the Coppes building with architects and city officials concerning the feasibility of a museum.