Details: A Colonial Cooking Fireplace

The Old House Web

Simple, classical mouldings surround this cooking fireplace. Moulding patterns are numbered in Abbott's drawings. The profiles of those mouldings, drawn to scale, appear in the sketch at the bottom of this page. (For a clearer view of the above elevation, click here.)

Fort Western, in Augusta, Maine, was built in 1754. The kitchen pictured here dates back to sometime in the building's pre-1800 days.

Depended upon for heat as well as cooking, fireplaces such as this one were the natural center of cold-weather life in many New England houses. They were generous in proportion -- this one is about five feet wide by four feet high -- and often had a cooking oven to their side, as does this fireplace.

Fort Western was carefully documented in 1937 by Charles E. Abbott, an employee with the Depression-era Works Progress Administration. Abbott's drawings and photos provide a fascinating glimpse into the ornamentation of a pre-1800 cooking fireplace in rural New England.

Today, the fireplace remains largely as Abbott found it more than 60 years ago, as the color photo, taken in July 2000, shows.

The kitchen today
The kitchen as of July 2000. (Ken Holmes photo)

The kitchen in the 1930s
The same room in 1937

Architectural details

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