255 Route 313, Perkasie PA 18944

Upcycled Humidor…

This humidor was created from an ice box that was recovered from the Owens Homestead in Fulton, Mississippi.  The homestead occupies land that was originally farmed in the 1840s.  Although the Owens family was poor, they were better off than many families in the “Mud Creek” area, the name locals gave the area.  The farm supported crops such as cotton and corn and once included a sawmill that was shut down in the Great Depression.  Dovie, the last family member to live on the property, was a local school teacher, inventor, and poet.  Her poetry got her inducted into the Homer Honor Society of International Poets.  One of her poems on immigrants still hangs in the Ellis Museum.  The property is now owned by Alfredo, son of Myrtle “Catherine” Owens, daughter of James.

Ice boxes, like this one from the Montgomery Ward company, were a common household item before the development of powered refrigeration devices in the 1930s.  Lined with thin sheets of metal and insulating material, ice boxes featured a large compartment that held a block of ice.  Cold air would circulate around smaller storage compartments in the lower sections; as the ice melted inside the cabinet, water would collect in a tray which could then be emptied.

This particular wooden ice box, known as “The Windsor,” was a part of Montgomery Ward’s iconic mail-order catalogue.  Founded in 1872, this business allowed rural, isolated populations to purchase goods by mail and then pick them up at the nearest train station. The company eventually declined with the rise of competitors like Macy’s and Sears Roebuck & Company. However, in the first half of the twentieth century, Montgomery Ward played a defining role in American consumerism.

While in Mississippi, Jay and Alfredo talked about turning this ice chest into a humidor and that’s exactly what we did.   While Native Americans were the first to grow and smoke tobacco, the practice grew quickly and became worldwide.  The word “cigar” is believed to originate from the Mayan word “sikar” or “smoking.”  By the mid-16th century, smoking tobacco was a popular practice throughout Europe.  In 1887, Terence Manning, an Irish furniture maker, traveled to South Africa where he learned about fine woods and crafting techniques.  He combined his knowledge of carpentry and fine woods and was deemed the inventor of the earliest cigar humidors. 

Jay started by stripping and repairing the body of the cabinet, inside and out.  He then took off all of the hardware and removed the nickel plating, returning it to the original brass.   He then carefully lined the inside body with Spanish cedar.  Spanish cedar is the most frequently used wood for the interior veneer of humidors because its holds more moisture than most woods, repels tobacco beetles, is not prone to warping and also imparts its aroma to the cigars.   A modern humidifier is encapsulated in antique finishings, so it functions as a modern humidor without looking modern.  The final touches: some cigar memorabilia and a coat of tung oil to bring to life the patina of more than one hundred year old oak!  If, however, you prefer an ice chest to a humidor, this was built in such a way that the original ice chest was not manipulated and can now act as either by removing the cedar and humidifier. 

 This Montgomery Ward ice box, recovered from the Owens Homestead, embodies an iconic business and an important era of American history.   We hope that this humidor brings the rest and relaxation of old days to its new owners. 

 Upcycled Humidor 16-after


Depth: 16″

Width: 27″

Height: 39″

Qty: 1

Inventory #: Paper Mill Refurb

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  1. 7-26-2015

    sorry my english is bad…
    but in freech:

    votre travaille est superbe!!
    faire du neuf avec de l’ancien et d’une tel qualité!!

  2. 11-29-2012

    I recently purchased the same ice chest with the intent to transform into a humidor like you did in these photos. The one I got is in perfect condition (no exterior work needed). Would it be possible to get in contact with the people that converted the one on your site so I can pick their brain for ideas such as cedar thickness, where they got the wood from, doors, etc? I’m having trouble finding the spanish cedar to get to started. Any help would be appreciated.

    Thank you,

    Dean Chatten

  3. 11-12-2012

    Just awesome thats all.

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