Remnants of an Internal Fireplace/Chimney

There was at one time an internal fireplace located between the two rooms on the right side of the house. I don’t know yet much about it from the inside of the house but I know about its location from under the house. The brick base went almost all the way to the floor boards and was surrounded by piles of fallen bricks; bits of plaster with wallpaper attached; ashes and scraps of framing and flooring strewn about. It took a lot of trips crawling back and forth with buckets of debris and bricks to clean up the mess left behind many years ago. I saved some wallpaper pieces and the bricks too. The bricks most likely will be used for a pathway when we get to the landscaping. I left the brick base of the fireplace under the house for now and I hope it won’t be in the way of the new foundation. I’d like to preserve a bit of the history. I wonder why they removed the fireplace? There were two chimneys, on either side of the house that were constructed later on the outside of the house but those have now been removed because they failed during the August 24, 2014 earthquake. I was curious about the history of fireplaces being built on the inside of homes and those built on the outside of homes. I learned that before 1796 most chimneys were built on the outside of homes as they were deep and needed the room. After 1796, when the shallow reflective Rumford fireplaces swept the country, chimneys came inside or were incorporated into the exterior walls of the house because it was easier to build the chimneys over the shallow fireplaces rather than to slope the flues to reach through the wall to an exterior chimney. Shallow fireplaces and inside chimneys lasted up through the 1930’s and 1940’s. By the 1950’s ranch houses were popular and so was “central heating”. Fuel was cheap and fireplaces were no longer required for heating. Fireplaces were “optional”. You might say fireplaces were re-invented to look horizontal so they would fit with the ranch style architecture. Fireplaces were also made deeper than they had been for 150 years to help keep them from smoking and, for the first time since the 18th century, chimneys were again built on the outside of the house.

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