When the refrigerator came along, it seems that, over time, the vents were boarded up and the California Cooler was all but forgotten. Today, if you walk the streets of my hometown, Berkeley, where most of the houses were built in the 1920's, you will see many homes, and even apartment buildings, with the exterior vestiges of these vents.
My house is such a house. When we decided to remodel our kitchen in early 2009, I came up with the idea of opening the vents and bringing our California Cooler back to life. What better way to conserve energy in this age of green thinking than to keep foods cool with outside air? This is the story of the resurrection of a California Cooler.
Step 1: History of the California Cooler
In this link someone is remodeling their kitchen and debating whether or not to keep the CA Cooler www.thathomesite.com/forums/load/kitchbath/msg110319387697.html
Below is a gallery of California Cooler photos that I shot in South and West Berkeley, actually photos of the exterior vents which, presumably, are all boarded up. They are VERY common around here and the majority of them seem to be floor-to-ceiling pantries. Our single, large vent seems to be very unusual.