REX COLE refrigerator ads

By GARY FONVILLE
Forgotten New York correspondent

Signs featuring “Rex Cole” have appeared previously in FNY. They were installed around the time that a newfangled technology for the home kitchen appeared on the scene called mechanical refrigeration – replacing the labor intensive ice box. In my travels around NYC, I have been able to capture some of the remaining ones.

 

So who was Rex Cole and why is his refrigerator on so many NYC housing projects? Cole (1887-1967) was originally a lamp manufacturer, then became associated with General Electric in the 1920s and designed white enamel Monitor Top refrigerators. Famed architect Raymond Hood designed a series of buildings in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, the Grand Concourse, and Northern Blvd. in Flushing for Cole’s showrooms that either looked like refrigerators or featured them in the design! Most are still standing but have been altered beyond recognition. Enamel signs proclaiming Cole’s GE refrigerators can still be found on a handful of buildings around town.

This Rex Cole showroom was at 4th Avenue and 65th Street in Bay Ridge. It didn’t survive the construction of the Gowanus Expressway in the early 1960s.

Personally, I know of two Rex Cole signs that have been removed.  One was on an apartment building on Lincoln Place, between Brooklyn & Kingston Avenues in Crown Heights Brooklyn.  The other one was at Southern Boulevard & Longwood Avenue in Longwood, The Bronx.

 

Oops, that Rex Cole sign grew legs and walked away! Somebody clearly knew its value. A blank space is all that remains.  Location:  Southern Boulevard & Longwood Avenue, The Bronx.

 

The other Bronx location is here on the west side of Broadway, near 225th Street.

 

This apartment building stretches between Crown & Montgomery Streets, in Crown Heights and has signs near both streets. A view from Utica Avenue, looking west.

 

I used a zoom lens to capture the one facing Crown Street…

 

And the one that faces Montgomery Street.

 

Gloriously sitting over New York Avenue, near Carroll Street, in Crown Heights, Brooklyn.

 

Sterling Place in Crown Heights, Brooklyn is the place where this one can be found.

7/22/13


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9 Responses to REX COLE refrigerator ads

  1. al gavin says:

    There is one on Elton st and Jamaica ave in Brooklyn facing Highland park.

  2. Joshua D says:

    There’s another one in the Bronx, on Mace Ave between Barker and Olinville:
    http://goo.gl/maps/2MNZ6

    There’s also a quite old house right next to it (heading towards Barker)

  3. Old Skool says:

    Those signs are the AC version of a Latin Catholic inscription. INRI, in english it means I’m Nailed Right In. The vandals must have had fun getting the one off the side of the building.

  4. butchie b says:

    we had one of those signs on our apartment building on ave. O in brooklyn. the landlord replaced all the refrigerators in the building with GE and took out all the hotpoint gas units. raised the rent $3.00 a month back in 1956. pop was not happy.

    • bill says:

      That is funny because GE and Hotpoint are basically the same products, made by the same company, and Rex Cole was the sales manager for both

  5. George Dunne says:

    The Rex Cole Showroom at 65th Strret & 4th Avenue exists. It was the Bay Ridge Porsche, then a pizzeria, and now a cabinet maker.

  6. carol says:

    Rex Cole was my great great uncle and a fascinating person–was the toast of Manhattan in the early 30s. His showrooms were legendary and groundbreaking at the time. Here’s a site with some pictures of them:
    http://collections.mcny.org/C.aspx?VP3=SearchResult_VPage&VBID=24UAYWSSO3DH
    Unfortunately the Depression was the end of all that.

    • april says:

      Thank you Carol for such an interesting addendum. This really took me back.

      • bill says:

        Carol is my cousin, the daughter of my mother’s sister. Over the years, I talked with Rex from Time to time on the phone. The Depression ruined him, but he was generous to a fault. Also was one of the chief financiers of the Masters Golf Tournament

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