Since it has finally gotten cold out, its time to light the fireplace. The fireplace is gas, having been converted quite a while ago. We brought over a mantle hood that Lisa and I had bought a number of years ago from a University of Iowa surplus auction. Rumor was that it was taken from the UI president's home on campus during a remodel. It wasn't the right size for our old fireplace, so we just leaned it up against the hearth. We have done the same at Foxcroft. I believe it would fit the opening here, however there are glass doors over the fireplace that prevent that from happening. We can't get rid of the glass doors, because the damper to the flue has been removed!
I knew that Helen had a great deal of trouble lighting the fireplace, and after I opened the doors, I could see why. There was over a foot of ashes and soot covering the entire firebox. Obviously they had been burning papers and what else, and no one ever cleaned. Thinking back I know the fireplace ran a good 10 hours a day, and now I'm guessing that it probably ran all night on a regular basis too. Yet another marvel that this place never burned down. After cleaning for an hour with the shop vac fitted with a HEPA filter, I could actually see where the pipes were. I lit a fire successfully and we all hung out in the living room the other night. Since then daughter number 2 wants at least one bedtime story by the fireplace.
So here's a series of pics of the fireplace:
The fireplace in 1928 when the house was built
This was our first visit to look at the house, Nov. '03
Shortly before the estate sale in Feb. '05
Right before we started renovation April '05
You can barely see the fire going Nov. '05