*© 2010 RC deWinter ~ All Rights Reserved
With no central heating, keeping warm and drying things were key tasks demanding constant attention to in colonial America.
Although in most houses there would be fireplaces in more than one room, most of these threw just enough heat to keep the room from freezing.
The main source of heat was usually the kitchen hearth. Because its heat and space were needed for so many activities, early American hearths tended to be very large – sometimes taking up the greater part of an interior kitchen wall. Cooking, along with drying clothes, herbs and washing were just a few of the things for which goodwives used the kitchen hearth.
In this detail of the hearth in the kitchen of of the Thankful Arnold House in Haddam, Connecticut, we see a collection of items – a drying tablecloth, fresh herbs and a child’s footstool – all vying for the precious heat that will result once the fire is laid and lit.
Digital oil painting from an original photograph shot June 12, 2010.*