Historic Kitchens

Authentic historic kitchens are from one time period, so next season you won’t be updating your kitchen to keep it in style. Your mind will not be forever reaching for the next look. You’ll find this mind-set is a money-saver, and an asthetic delight. If you’ve been graced with original cabinetry, keep them. Often early cabinets do not contain chipboard, and have a solid structure. To duplicate mid-1800s up to the 1930s: a baker’s table or hoosier-style cabinet, an antique butcher block, a farm table, some open shelves, and, if you really want to commit, a wood-burning stove or vintage gas stove.

  • Electric stove: 1920s to 1950s.
  • Vintage gas stove: early 1900s to 1950s
  • Wood-burning stove: Early-1800s to 1930s

1870s Kitchen.
1880s Kitchen.
1890s Kitchen.
1900s Kitchen.
1910s Kitchen.

Wood-Stove Coffee…

Fannie Farmer’s Recipe for Boiled Coffee

“Old-timers will never admit that filtered coffee has as fine a flavor as old-fashioned boiled coffee, made with an egg.” –Fannie Farmer
Fannie Farmer’s Coffee Recipe —>

1906 Kitchen

by Rena

Excerpts from The Complete Home, 1906

The Kitchen
If any one room in the home was conceived solely for the relief of man’s estate, that room is the kitchen, and it has supplied the energy which has sent forth many a one to fight a winning battle with the world, the flesh, and the devil; …it is, alas, too true that it is the rock upon which many a domestic ship has gone to pieces… Full Story –>

The Dining Room and the Kitchen
Many families do no home baking, and where fruit and vegetables are preserved the basement is utilized. Compactness in the kitchen saves hundreds of steps in the course of a day, and though it is difficult for us to forget the spacious room thought necessary by our parents, we may well learn, for our own comfort, to profit by the modern reasoning that opposes waste space. Full Story –>

The Plan
Blessed indeed is the kitchen with opposite windows, which insure a perfect circulation of air. Full Story –>

Location and Finish
A combination of white woodwork with blue walls and ceiling is charming, particularly where the blue-enameled porcelain-lined cooking utensils are used. Full Story –>

The Floor
…the new “colonial” cotton-rag rugs, woven in harmony with the general color scheme, protect the floor and help to relieve the strain of much standing, and can he washed and dried as satisfactorily as any piece of cotton cloth… Full Story –>

The Windows
A dainty valance, or sash curtains of muslin, dimity, or other summer wash goods, give an attractive and homey touch to the room. Full Story –>

The Sink
The sink, unless it is porcelain-lined, should be kept well painted and enameled, white being preferable to any color. Full Story –>

The Pantry
There are usually four shelves, the top one being reserved for articles of infrequent use. On the others are arranged the kitchen dishes, pans, and all utensils which do not hang, together with jars and cans containing food. Full Story –>

The Refrigerator and Its Care
If one cares to invest in the higher-priced refrigerators, of course those lined with tile, porcelain, or enamel are very desirable, as they are easily kept clean and do not absorb odors. Full Story –>

The Stove
A rack behind the stove, on which to hang the spoons and forks used in cooking, is a great convenience and a saving to the table top. Full Story –>

The Table and Its Care
The table should stand on casters and be placed in a good light as far from the stove as may be. The latest product of the manufacturer’s genius in this line contains two drawers—one spaced off into compartments for the different knives, forks, and spoons for kitchen use—a molding board, and three zinc-lined bins, one large one for wheat flour, and two smaller one for graham flour, corn meal, etc. Full Story –>

…A chair of this kind has a cane seat and high back and can be purchased for $1.25, the other chair to be of the regulation kitchen style at 55 cents…. Full Story –>

The Kitchen Cabinets
…the kitchen cabinet, which not only relieves the congestion in the pantry, but adds in no small measure to the attractiveness of the kitchen. These cabinets come in the natural woods, and should, as nearly as possible, match the woodwork of the kitchen…. Full Story –>

Kitchen Utensils
Kitchen crockery is being rapidly supplanted by the porcelain enamel dishes, which, though rather more expensive in the beginning, are unbreakable, and so cheaper in the long run. They are even invading the domain of the faithful yellow mixing bowl and becoming decidedly popular therein, being light in weight and more easily handled. Full Story –>

1906 TABLE FURNISHINGS… Full Article –>

Design Sponge

by Rena

Design Sponge showcases lovely home designs along with the owner’s quick biography. Here is a vintage kitchen re-creation in West Fulton, New York.

American History Museum is hosting America’s Kitchens traveling exhibit from Historic New England on Friday, April 1 until October 31, 2011. The exhibit includes a 1759 kitchen, a southwest adobe kitchen and a bright blue 1957 kitchen, and more. Earlier, the exhibit was at the Long Island Museum. Historic New England also has an online exhibit, From Dairy to Doorstep. Like

Historic New England features their 36 historic house museums online. Many of the houses have kitchen photos, and here they are:

Bakers Table

by Rena

Question: Could you help C. Filson with this question about the design of an 1850s bakers rack?

Early kitchens had a work table where baking was prepared, and a large dresser to contain pots, pans, dishes, etc. By the 1890s the plain baker’s tables began to evolve into the later hoosier cabinets. The 1905 reproduction baker’s table in the photo below has a row of two bottom drawers containing flour bins, and directly under the work surface are two cutting boards which slide out for use. This baking table was replicated from a Montgomery Ward catalog and custom built for one of the authentic kitchens at the Living History Farms in Urbandale, Iowa.

Heritage Square Museum in Oneida New York has a photo of a mid-1800s kitchen with another baking cupboard pictured. Also pictured is a log-cabin kitchen.

1856 kitchen design.Kansas City, Missouri “Steamship Arabia Museum” is an 1856 time-capsule from a 171 ft x 29 ft sunken ship with a storehouse of new 1856 goods on their way to market for Western settlements. A must see, and a must-see-again museum! This kitchen display was one of the most dramatic kitchen exhibits we’ve seen in a museum to date — and all items from 1856. The exhibit of 1856 kitchen items was extensive: rows of tea kettles, pots, pans, dishes, elegant china, silver, utensils, serving trays, pickles, brandied cherries–all original, never used, and all on their way to market.

1870s kitchen animation by Rena Goff.

Why renovate your kitchen every 10 years to keep up with the latest kitchen styles? With a period kitchen style you can avoid being out-of-date by being intentionally out-of-date. The cooking fuels were invented in this order: first wood, then coal, then gas, and lastly electric stoves. were more conveniently used in rural areas, where storing wood was not a problem. Coal stoves were often used in cities, or where storage was at a premium. Gas stoves ran cleaner in the home than coal, and electric stoves, the visibly cleanest (there is talk now of ‘dirty’ electric energy fields–who knows?)
We gathered a list of antique stove companies:

The Pioneer kitchen at the museum in Watertown New York is the scene for hands-on pioneer kitchen work for children during the Pioneer Times program. On the other side of the room you can see over 50 years in the future to a Victorian kitchen — a good way to compare historic kitchens side-by-side!