Nostalgia | The Glass Kitchen

An idea of the future from the past

Image provided courtesy of Charles L. Franck / Franck-Bertacci Photographers Collection, The Historic New Orleans Collection, 1979.325.1745

In 1954, the Petrolane Gas Company built the Glass Kitchen, a new showroom unlike anything seen in New Orleans before. Located at 917 Jefferson Highway, the glass-walled room was 65 feet long and 12 feet wide. Suspended seven feet in the air and held in place by two 75 foot arches, customers could pull up and park underneath it. Steel stairwells led up to showroom.

The one-of-a-kind building, designed by Goldstein, Parham, and Labouisse (architects who also designed New Orleans Public Library’s Main branch and the original Moisant International Airport terminal), was striking in its modern, bold lines and attention-grabbing both night and day.

The showroom was built to display and sell electrical appliances, but also gas appliances that could be powered by liquefied petroleum gas, as sold by Petrolane. The Glass Kitchen featured large appliances like ranges, refrigerators, and washing machines down to smaller items like fry pans, toasters, and the Westinghouse Adjust-O-Matic Iron. Customers could also purchase plumbing and tank gas system services.

There was a two-day opening celebration in October 1954 with executives from oil and appliances companies attending, and full crowds competing for door prizes. During the following spring, the Petrolane Glass Kitchen was hosting daily cooking school classes. The Louisiana Food Store provided free bags of groceries to each of the 24 students per day, who used the floor model appliances to cook. A series of fires and explosions at the Petrolane offices over the following years saw an all too fast end of the Glass Kitchen. ✦

 

The Petrolane Glass Kitchen in December 1954. Louis Abramson, a Shreveport native and LSU quarterback, made oil and gas his career, starting multiple businesses soon after graduating in 1924. He started Petrolane Gas Corp. in 1936. Petrolane distributed liquefied petroleum gas, appliances and containers, and had about 25 outlets around Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.