Fox’s Victorian Kitchen: The Great Stove Safari

Blog entry by Karla Pearlstein, Restoring History, Oct 20, 2008

Kim and Roy Fox are clients of mine and in the process of restoring a Victorian kitchen as first described in “Fox’s Victorian Kitchen: A Creative Interchange of Insights and Ideas”.

Kim and Roy were struggling with their stove selection for the restoration. They had successfully found many elements for the kitchen on their own.  But the stove they had found and purchased on the web had quality problems when it arrived. Fortunately, they were able to return it for a refund, but they were unsure of where to look for another stove. They were leery of going back on the web, but needed to figure out how to locate the type of stove they wanted.

 
Images: (left) Eriez Stove at Erickson's Antique Stoves, (right) Eriez Stove top

In my travels as restoration consultant, I have traveled numerous times to the New England states and have a number of contacts there. I recommended Dave Erickson (of Erickson's Antique Stoves in Littleton Massachusetts). Dave has an amazing stove restoration shop located in the historic 1870's Littleton Train Depot. There he has a work shop, showroom and warehouse with a wide array of both parlor and cook stoves available. And in my experience, whatever he doesn't have, he can find.

Based on their own research, Kim and Roy were pretty sure they wanted a Magic Chef six-burner stove with two ovens and a warming oven. They were uneasy about choosing a stove using photos again, so I recommended that they take a trip back to the East Coast and meet with Dave. That way they could see the many options that Dave has both at his shop and in his huge warehouse.

  
Images: (left) Decorative detail on Eriez Stove, (right) Kim Fox with stove

They made the decision to go and ended up with a totally different stove than they had initially been considering. They purchased an Eriez Stove because it had the features they wanted and an older looking appearance they liked even more. They were also impressed with a Real Economy Stove because it was one of the first gas stoves and more closely reflected the period of the house. But that stove was not as practical as the Eriez so they reluctantly left it behind. They ended up finding and purchasing a wonderful laundry sink at Dave's as well.

Kim and Roy also purchased a wonderful mixer faucet they found on line. It, too, arrived with quality problems. After numerous local inquiries, they seemed to have run up against a dead end. No one wanted to work on it. I contacted Walter Parker of School House Plumbing in Dudley, Massachusetts, and he thought it would be no problem to repair the faucet. Walter is truly the “Plumber From the Gods”. He understands every nuance of period plumbing. I picked up the faucet and sent in on to Walter for repair.

 
Images: (left) Real Economy Stove needing restoration, (right) Laundry sink

Walter had the repaired faucet ready and waiting for Kim and Roy when they visited his shop in Massachusetts. They had the opportunity to spend time with Walter, look through is amazing shop (located in an old school house, thus the name School House Plumbing), and purchase some other plumbing parts that they discovered while there.

All in all, Kim and Roy had a fun and productive trip to the East Coast. They triumphantly returned having found the perfect stove, their faucet repaired, and some other wonderful finds as well. I am glad that I was able to help bring them together with some great resources. It is one of the most important things I do as a restoration consultant.

 

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Comments

  • 7/7/2009 2:16 AM ShantiAna Fitzgerald wrote:
    Hello Karla, I have had you on my mind and decided to search for your name on the web and this is what I found! I am so proud of you! You go girl! I am so happy to see you following your passion and applying your knowledge and skills preservation history! You make this world a better place! ShantiAna

    (Response by Karla of Restoring History, "I'm glad to be back in touch with you too Shanti. Thank you for encouragement and support!")
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  • 3/22/2010 2:49 AM Joanne S wrote:
    I so admire people who are this dedicated to real restoration for its own sake. I can't imagine the horror of ordering a stove of all things, only to be disappointed in it when it arrives and have to go about returning it. I mean, imagine the work in returning the darned thing. This is dedication! Thanks for posting the photos!

    (Response by Karla of Restoring History, "Yes, Kim and Roy were very disappointed with the first stove they purchased. And they were fortunate that the seller was willing to refund them. I highly recommend Dave Erickson's Antique Stoves in Littleton MA (978 857 8014) for anyone considering an antique stove. Dave's stoves are the best of the best.")
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  • 3/24/2010 10:21 PM Steve J wrote:
    Wow. A Victorian stove. And then, most Victorian people wouldn't have seen this stove, only the kitchen maids and the cooks. No wonder they needed full-time servants just to cook, seeing as it took hours to get food done! I'm glad for modern-day technology, but I find these historical items really fascinating. Thanks for the great pictures!

    (Response by Karla of Restoring History, "Thank you for your comments, I'm glad you found the Fox Kitchen interesting! The stove that you see is actually a 1920's stove.... but it is a beautiful one. And it has been fully updated and insulated, with a stainless steel lining inside the ovens. This stove has had the ovens converted to electric, and has safety's on the gas burner pilot lights. So in essence, this is a fully modern stove with regard to functionality. But you are right about the Victorian Era being one with servants there to handle the cooking, cleaning, and other chores. The Victorian stoves were primarily black cast iron with designs in the castings. Many also had nickeled components as well.")
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  • 4/1/2010 12:58 AM Neel K wrote:
    I love the grillwork on that stove. That is gorgeous! What a great find, and you can be assured it is one of a kind. So important to put in those little details that give a place an authentic feel for a period in history.

    (Response by Karla of Restoring History, "Yes, I so agree with you on the beauty of the stove Kim and Roy chose. Vintage appliances add a warmth and charm that is nearly impossible to get with modern appliances. Vintage stoves are the easiest vintage appliance to include. Dave Erickson reconditions vintage appliances so they have all the amenities of a modern stove. He is truly my hero!

    Refrigerators can be a bit more of a challenge, as the freezer compartments are limited in size and require defrosting. However, there are creative approaches to bringing refrigeration into a historic kitchen without compromising it with ugly stainless steel sub-zeros. There are decent vintage reproduction vintage refrigerators, use of remote compressors in actual iceboxes, hidden drawer refrigerators & freezers, and numerous other tricks of the trade to bring those conveniences in without destroying the aesthetics of the room.

    The Foxes brought an enormous amount of charm into their kitchen with the choice of a vintage stove and the custom icebox shell that hides the contemporary refrigerator/freezer components. Contemporary appliances are best kept in contemporary kitchens, and vintage kitchens are best with vintage appliances. Like belongs with like...

    Thanks for your kind and thoughtful comment.")
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  • 4/20/2010 11:58 PM Watson S wrote:
    Nice old stoves. Do people still use them, or are they just used as character decorations? I wonder how well they cook if they are used as they originally intended. Unless they are modified to fit today's needs... You have an interesting job, to say the least!

    (Response by Karla of Restoring History, "Thank you for your kind comment and question. Your question is one that many ask with regard to vintage stoves. In these projects, the stoves are used as intended. The 1940's Wedgewood was an eBay find, and just needed a little cleaning and adjusting. It works beautifully. The Eriez stove has been totally restored. During the restoration, Dave Erickson made modifications, such as making the oven electric, and adding gas safety valves that were not available in when this stove was made. I have cooked exclusively on vintage stoves for most of my adult life, and I love them. Vintage stove can be a bit like vintage cars, they become one of the family.  New stoves, on the other hand are generally viewed as a consumable commodity and tend to be more reflective of our throw away society. When they stop working, they are often replaced rather than repaired.")

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