Kitchen Details: O’Keefe & Merritt Stove

28 Apr

This post is for those of you who, like me, geek out on the details of vintage stuff.  Like  most things in our house, we have a pretty good story about the acquisition of our vintage stove.

Isn’t she a beauty?  Long before we started on our kitchen renovation, we were looking for a vintage stove.  The one we had at the time was very cheap 90’s and the oven did not work.  This one showed up on Craigslist one day in the semi-nearby suburb of Oak Park, IL.  The sellers were asking $400.  We decided to go take a look.

The sellers were a young couple who had a vague interest in vintage.  They originally wanted to put this stove in their kitchen, but ended up with something more modern in the end.  Now get this – not only did the sellers have this stove, but they had a bunch of extra parts for it.  It turns out that after they purchased it, it was discovered that the girl’s grandpa had the EXACT SAME STOVE sitting in his garage.  Extra burners, knobs, drip pans, glass, griddle covers in both white enamel and chrome, plus burner parts, etc.  I pretty much knew that I NEEDED this stove, but $400 was a bit much for us at the time.  We decided to go home and “think about it.”

We got home and as we pulled into the driveway, I noticed that my car looked kind of slanted.  Turns out it had a flat tire and I ended up having to spend what little extra money I had to buy new tires.  Bye bye stove…

But wait!  I got an email the next day from the sellers telling me that they wanted to give us the stove for FREE.  What?  I guess they liked the idea of giving it to a young couple like themselves who would appreciate it and take care of it.  Boy Howdy!  We hightailed it back out there with a truck and some extra muscle (The Boy’s ever helpful Dad – thanks again Rick!) and brought that baby home.

Griddle with working temperature gauge

It is in pretty fantastic condition with just a little pitting on some of the chrome.  It also needs some electrical work to make the fluorescent bulbs in the back light up.  We once plugged it in and it started smoking.

5th burner underneath the griddle

I am an avid cook and use the heck out of this stove.  It is so amazing how well made and well thought out this stove is.  Here is a photo from the last time I gave it a good cleaning:

Prepping for a good cleaning

There is a prop rod for cleaning “under the hood.”  Everything comes apart and there are little drip pans under the burners that catch crumbs and spills.  So nice.  O’Keefe & Merritt was a high-end manufacturer and they made this sucker to last.

I am not sure of the exact year that our stove was made, but I did find this ad from November 1960 with a pink version of our stove.  It helped shed light on some of the mystery parts and gadgets that came with the stove.

I have not been able to find too much information on our particular model.  I would love to find a manual some day.   I am not quite sure how the Grillevator and rotisserie work, but I am pretty sure we have all the parts and I hope to try them out some day.

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12 Responses to “Kitchen Details: O’Keefe & Merritt Stove”

  1. David October 8, 2012 at 4:51 PM #

    Congrats on your range, and there are yet more like it in the Chicago area (more than I’d have ever thought too) – I have one too. Hopefully you’ll take pictures of the grillevator and rotisserie once you get them going (I’m missing part of that, I think). Have you figured out how to work the automatic baking feature?

    • millerbeachmodern October 9, 2012 at 11:56 AM #

      I have not used any of the fancy gadgets. We have to rewire the electrical system on the stove. The last time I plugged it in, the plug started smoking at the outlet so I figured it would be best not to plug it in anymore. I have been quite curious myself about how everything works. One day!

      • David October 9, 2012 at 2:03 PM #

        Thanks for the response. I had to rebuild the burner valves, but my biggest problem is the oven – I can’t get the pilot lit (there are two gas lines going down there) and I need baked goods and shrinky dinks, etc!

        BTW Automaticwasher.org has been good for info about the stove and repairs, so far.

      • millerbeachmodern October 9, 2012 at 2:36 PM #

        I was lucky in that the oven works great. Only one of my burners will light on it’s own. 3 need a lighter/match held to them to get them started and the last one doesn’t work at all. At some point I will probably look into getting it all working properly, but for now it works well enough for what I need.

        A few weeks ago there was a large appliance uploader on retrorenovation.com Someone else had the same O’Keefe & Merritt stove posted and I have been thinking of trying to contact them to see if they have additional information.

  2. David October 10, 2012 at 3:48 PM #

    I had to rebuild the burner valves – not tricky, but elbow grease required (and valve cream). Oh, I just said that, didn’t I?

    Here’s my monster;

    P1020650

    (I think it’s in the Retro Renovation Flickr pool)

    • millerbeachmodern October 11, 2012 at 10:33 AM #

      Nice! I think that ours must be a year or two apart as I am noticing minor little differences.

      • David October 11, 2012 at 3:55 PM #

        Thanks! Yours is nice too. Yes, I notice the back of the underhood area looks different. Do you have two gas lines down to the oven pilot too? I think they were all “custom” built, as in you could order what features and they were assembled individually – I gather Crown ranges were that way too, though perhaps “semi-custom” is really the right term.

  3. Michael June 18, 2013 at 12:18 PM #

    HI, i think that I have the same stove. The gas valve started to leak and needs to be replaced. I found 2 different kind of valves online, do you know which is the right valve?

    • millerbeachmodern June 19, 2013 at 2:35 PM #

      Sorry, but I don’t know the answer. Luckily most everything on my stove was in working order when I got it and I have not had to deal with the gas valve.

  4. Jeana Rodgers October 28, 2015 at 11:25 PM #

    My grandma had that same stove. Now it’s mine. I believe she bought it in 1959 after staring at it in a store window for nearly a year to save enough money to buy it.

  5. Nick LaMonica November 30, 2016 at 12:53 AM #

    I live in the suburb of Park Ridge just outside of chicago and have what seems to be a similar model. I wish I new where to begin on getting my burner with a brain to work plus I have never used the griddle or rotisserie over. Not sure how that side of the stove works griddle is simple.

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  1. More Kitchen Projects | Frim Fram Life - November 11, 2014

    […] of it–no goofy digital sh*t to deal with, plus it’s kind of retro and I miss my old 1960 O’Keefe & Merritt from our previous […]

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