Thanksgiving has come and gone but traditional ideas in design plans remain on our minds year round. In terms of tradition, Colonial Fireplaces certainly offers a design element that imbues the modern home with both the spirit and the reality of the Colonial Period in America. So let’s take a brief look at it’s origins and how it can be interpreted today. For this post, consider the starting point of the Colonial design period as the establishment of the Jamestown Colony in Virginia in 1607 and its rough end as 1776 with the commencement of the Revolutionary War. Even with that historical truncation, that is still a lot of years to think about. No less an authority than the classic of the genre, The Elements of Style, states that “it is helpful to divide this period into two phases: a frontier or settlement phase and the Georgian (or classical or Palladian) phase”. We will think of the latter for the moment.
It is very important to understand the role that Colonial Fireplaces played in every day life. Again to quote The Elements of Style,“as the social center of the household, the fireplace always received some decorative emphasis in Colonial homes”. At the very top of this post is the bedroom in the Joseph Priestley House in Pennsylvania circa 1794. The design, by Mrs. Priestly, is generally considered Georgian with Federalist influences. Note the essential lack of extravagance. Immediately above is the Assembly Room inside Independence Hall in Philadelphia built between 1732 and 1756. Notably Georgian overall, the decorative aspects of the fireplaces are prominent. Lastly, have a look at the the fireplace in the restaurant of Mt. Vernon the home of George and Martha Washington. Please note that all three examples here are from the Middle Atlantic region and therefore are more indicative of English influences rather than say the Dutch proclivities of the Hudson River Valley. Perhaps that is another post for another day.
Our sister company, Materials Marketing, takes prides in its vast catalog of natural stone fireplaces. A large percentage of these are custom designed to the individual needs of the client. There are ten luxury MML showrooms in present day America where the fireplaces of Colonial America can be artfully and tastefully reproduced. Stop in and visit one of them or reach out to me at email@example.com. Thanks!