Updating a 1940 s colonial house
Food would be prepped in the kitchen, but it would not be stored there.
"Herbs could be dried in the attic, flour and vegetables could be kept in a cool cellar—you could be traveling all around the house in order to assemble the ingredients for the evening’s meal," said Carlisle of food production in the late-18th and early 19th centuries. Instead, water would be brought in and any washing would be done in a wooden barrel that could be emptied afterwards.
Notice how the summer kitchen in the listing photo is stone while the house wood frame—that difference of material is not an accident, and was likely influenced by the threat of fire.
In our conversation with Carlisle, she noted that in addition to being an auxiliary space for cooking, summer kitchens could also serve as a year-round location to do smelly chores like laundry.
Old houses often need updates to electrical systems; the author’s 1903 home was no exception.
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If the water needed to be heated, it would be done over the fireplace, one of the only elements of the kitchen built into the space.
As kitchen technology changed, it no longer became necessary to move food preparation—and various unsightly chores—outside of the house.
While summer kitchens are primarily found in upstate New York and the Midwest, 18th-century houses in the mid-Atlantic region—like Virginia—often separated the kitchen in a distinct, usually wooden, structure.
Unlike summer kitchens of the north, these discrete workspaces were the main kitchens and were used year round rather than seasonally.
The space was kept quite clear, usually featuring a table pushed against the wall that could be used as either a workspace or a regular kitchen table.
There may have been a rack for drying clothes or herbs, but the majority of the furnishings in the space would be entirely portable and temporary.