Ancestral Roofs

"In Praise of Older Buildings"

Monday, March 3, 2014

Keeping the home fires burning

John Demille House (c.1816) Demorestville
I have been thinking about undertaking a bit of research on historic fireplace styles. An afternoon beside the 1810 open hearth cooking fireplace at John and Diane Brisley's home, with its bake-oven and winder staircase enclosed behind original panelling, its plain shelf mantel with simple treasures, made me want to spend more time there (virtually or in reality!)

Macpherson House (1826) Napanee

Several visits to Macpherson House in Napanee for teas and tours this year also presented opportunities to enjoy the simplicity (and imagine the heat!) of the cooking fireplace, and compare it with the more refined fireplace mantel in the elegant parlour.
Macpherson kitchen

the cool basement summer kitchen

The more refined parlour mantel, with panels and corner blocks is such a contrast to the working hearth just down the hall.

a Georgian mantel...
A few visits Ron Tasker's Ham House in Bath, with its Georgian and Neoclassical mantels awaiting restoration and return to their rightful places have provided an opportunity to examine how styling changed over time.
and a Neoclassical... together in a Neoclassical house

And then, of course, we need to take a look at mantels with a Greek Revival accent, and the shrinking yet more ornate showplace Victorian version. And along the way, earlier than we might think, the cast iron stove made its appearance, in both the kitchen and more formal rooms.

And just as I was beginning a search for books on the subject, I happened upon a great article in one of the vast collection of Canada Century Home articles which came my way thanks to Judith's thoughtfulness, which I wrote about in a previous post. The article's called Home Fires, written by the estimableTom Cruickshank. It appeared in the October-November 1986 issue, and if you are fortunate to have a copy, you may read along with me.

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