When Fireplaces Never Went Out

The fireplace is a sparkling focal point in historic homes. That’s because in early America, the fireplace was a necessity. As the hub of the house, a burning hearth provided heat, housed multiple fires for cooking and baking, and served as the nucleus of family gatherings. In the 1600s and early 1700s, the typical fireplace was a walk-in with a wide, deep, open recess, generally with only the briefest semblance of a mantel, or no mantel at all. What many people don’t realize is that the fireplace was so essential to families throughout Europe that in many homes fireplaces remained lit for generations. Over time, the purpose of fireplaces has changed from one of necessity to one of visual interest, and people no longer leave their fireplace lit and unattended overnight.