Four of the radiators in the Box House (two in each unit) were protected with metal radiator covers made by a local Chicago-area company. My best guess (and my mom's opinion) dates them to the 1950s, but that's only a guess. Salvage One has one listed on their Web site for $100, but doesn't include a date.
Vintage or no, they had to go. They are bulky, not particularly attractive, and two of them actually blocked access to the valve, as they weren't the proper size for those radiators. (Lord knows when the radiators were last bled.) So Ted and I lifted them straight off and hauled them away to the kitchens. We plan on just sticking them in the basement for now, and possibly listing them on Craigs List later. (Or if anyone just wants to take them off our hands, let me know.)
The amount of dust under them is incredible, and I don't think the Previous Owners ever moved them to paint the walls, as subsequent coats stopped just behind the edges of the cover. *Sigh.* And one of them even has a carpet fragment under it, which I'll have to pull out before we have the floor sanders come in.
Of the remaining radiators, half of them were uncovered while the rest had various contraptions balanced on them to make a flat surface--sheets of painted metal, plywood, etc. There is one in the upstairs kitchen that has a sort of built-in shelf above it, which will have to go as well, but I didn't have the energy at the time to pull out the tools, so it's still there.
Overall, I think I like the look of the bare radiators. There is only one I think I'd like to cover, and that's in the dining room, so I can create a window seat. But that's a project far, far, down the road. For now, we'll continue to just pull out the junk and work our way to those "good bones" everyone tells us the Box House has.