Mullins Manufacturing Corporation
The makers of the Youngstown Kitchen line of porcelain steel cabinetry and sinks had a rich history in Salem, Warren and Youngstown, Ohio. Kitterage, Clark and Company was founded in Salem in 1872, and made metal building ornaments. The firm changed names and owners several times, until William H. Mullins purchased it in 1882. W. H. Mullins Company expanded its plant and product lines to include metal outdoor statuary, weathervanes and finials, metal boats and motors, and steel car body parts for the automobile industry in the early 20th century. In 1925 Mullins introduced a line of stamped steel washing machine tubs that were coated in porcelain enamel.
John Pew secured patents for fabricating metal roofing panels, and he established the Youngstown Iron and Steel Roofing Company in Youngstown in 1894. In 1905 the firm expanded with pressed steel products, making automobile and agricultural components. Sharon Steel Hoop Company purchased Youngstown Iron and Steel in 1917, reorganized the company as a subsidiary, and named it Youngstown Pressed Steel Company. YPS built a new manufacturing plant and relocated to Warren in 1920. They entered the porcelain steel market around 1930 with a line of stamped steel sinks that weighed much less than cast iron fixtures.
Mullins and Youngstown Pressed Steel merged in 1937 under the name Mullins Manufacturing Corporation. The new firm hired George E. Whitlock of Toledo, Ohio, to be President and Chief Executive Officer. Mullins first introduced a line of porcelain enameled steel cabinets in 1940. Like most steel manufacturers, Mullins dedicated its production lines to military orders during World War II. After the war Mullins restarted and expanded their Youngstown Kitchen line to include sinks, base cabinets, countertops, upper cabinets and tall utility cabinets. All of their production facilities in Warren and most of the plant in Salem were dedicated to producing porcelain steel components.
Competition was fierce for both metal and wood kitchen cabinetry during the great housing boom in the late-1940s and 1950s. With a nationwide network of showrooms and home salespersons, Mullins touted their Youngstown Kitchen line as the best selling steel kitchen cabinets among 62 competing firms in their 1950s advertising. In 1956 Mullins merged with the American Radiator & Standard Sanitary Corporation. The production facilities in Warren and Salem, and administrative and sales staff became a subsidiary of American-Standard called the Youngstown Kitchen Division.
W. H. Mullins made an 18-foot tall statue of Diana that was designed by sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens and placed on top of the tower of the new Madison Square Garden in 1891. It later was exhibited at the Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893. The figure of Diana became the logo for Mullins and was incorporated in the name plates for Youngstown Kitchen cabinets.
This collection includes a used porcelain steel sink top and base cabinet, used upper cabinet, 3-new old stock base cabinets, a new old stock corner lazy susan cabinet, 2-new old stock whatnot shelves, a new old stock circular end shelving unit, 4-new old stock sections of chrome steel countertops with Cusheen-brand coverings, and a new old stock General Electric Airliner range.
Purchase of this collection was made possible by a generous contribution from Michael and Jeanette Garvey, Owners of M-7 Technologies, Inc., Youngstown, Ohio, in memory of George E. Whitlock, President of Mullins Manufacturing Corporation, 1937-1956.
The Mahoning Valley Historical Society acknowledges the contributions and cooperation of the following in bringing this collection to the Tyler Mahoning Valley History Center:
J. Alan Company, Warren, Ohio–Mr. Ben Casado, Galt, California–Mr. Scott M. Zoldan, Canfield, Ohio
The cabinets are now being displayed as part of a new exhibit at The Arms Family Museum, 648 Wick Avenue in Youngstown. Mid Century Modern in the Mahoning Valley is now open Tuesday through Sunday from Noon to 4:00 p.m. Admission is $7 for adults, $6 for seniors and $5 for children.