Boulton’s Summer Kitchen Hearth Restoration

The year was 1973. During the Arab-Israeli War, Arab members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) imposed an embargo against the United States. This embargo had a direct effect on millions of American families. Fuel oil, gasoline, and all other petroleum products were in short supply, which caused prices to rise dramatically. People had to wait in line for gas. Rationing was implemented based on the license number of your vehicle, odd numbers one day even numbers the next day.

Mary Henry Stites was no exception to this hardship. In order to reduce her heating cost, she enlisted the help of Mr. Koehler to install a wood stove in the 1832 Kitchen fireplace. The hearth was raised up with several courses of brick, large metal plates were placed on top and a wood burning stove was installed. Doors were installed to enclose the stove when it was not used. Mary then closed off most of the house to preserve the precious fuel oil and took up full time residence in the kitchen area. She used the back stairs, to access the bedroom above.

It was during this time that the summer kitchen received the same treatment. Three courses of brick were added with a concrete cap. This was done so the stove could be moved there to cook in the summer. Several of our visitors who have seen other hearths of the 1800s questioned why our hearth is so much higher. Now you know the reason.

We have received a quote from a historic restoration mason, Paul Janusz, to restore the summer kitchen hearth to its original dimensions. The doors, which were added in 1973, will be removed to complete the project. This restoration will allow JHS to properly present hearth cooking to our visitors and work toward offering hearth cooking classes.

Funding for this project was originally provided by three members of our Board of Directors, but as all too often happens during historic restoration, additional work was necessary to complete the restoration properly which added to the cost.

We are asking people who care about Jacobsburg and believe in our mission to consider helping to defray the additional cost by sponsoring a brick for $10 or a number of bricks at $10 per brick.

You can help make this Historic Restoration a reality

Here is the “before” picture of the Summer Kitchen Hearth as it was during Christmas@Boulton 2023:


You have no doubt heard the expression “It’s a dirty dangerous job, but somebody has to do it.” Well, this is the type of job that this expression describes. Paul definitely had to “gear up” to tackle the old hearth:

This is Paul without his protective gear cleaning out some debris:

Here is a better view of the concrete pad that was used to raise the floor of the hearth as it is being removed:

You can see in this photo the hearth after all the demo was completed:

The original brick underlayment has been exposed and awaits the final layer of fire bricks which are yet to come:

You can be part of this Historic Restoration project by sponsoring a Brick.