Many Fireplaces

Small heating fireplaces throughout the house


This house has nine fireplaces. Two large hearths were used for both heat and cooking – they included beehive ovens for baking. The seven others are tiny heating fireplaces in the Rumford design that appeared at the end of the eighteenth century. Their backs are slanted to direct more heat into the room. They would be set with a small fire, or hold a small metal box filled with hot coals – such as a foot warmer.

Most homes probably had only one or two fires burning at the same time. Even so, thirty cords of wood or more would be needed each year for heating and cooking. That’s a lot of wood. And a lot of work. It had to be cut by hand, with a saw, and split by hand, with an axe or a maul, and riven into kindling with a hatchet. No wonder it is oft said, “Chop your own wood and it will warm you twice.”

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This feature is made possible by a grant from the Leo J. and Rose Pageau Trust.