Joe Hammes' 1816 Farm House

Date: January 26, 1997
Subject: Interesting stuff

Hi Jim, great work you've been doing. My name is Joe Hammes, I am a designer/builder/old house restorer in Southeastern Pennsylvania, and have loved the Rumford design since I first read about them when I was a kid.

I own a Pennsylvania German stone farmhouse (kind of the vernacular for this area) built 1816. It has a small parlor stone fireplace, opening 2-0 by 2-0, about 1-4 deep, with straight sides, back, and flue, which only chokes to about 12 by 16 inches at the roofline. It draws and burns perfectly, I imagine because of its simple design. The lintel is squared, but it definitely draws room air over the top of the fire.

I was pleased to see you recommend the tepe fire with no grate: I've been building fireplace fires that way for years, much to the amusement of the staid horizontal-loggers. Let them shiver.

My second fireplace is a big walk-in in the kitchen, 3-0 deep, 5-0 high, 5-0 wide. As with every other walk-in I have seen the lintel is a huge oak timber, 12 to 16 inches high, 10-12 inches deep, and hewn to an inverted triangle, angled in and up. This chimney tapers gradually up and to the center of the house where it exits at the ridge line at around 12 by 18 inches. The angled lintel has a full Rumford draft thing going on and the plastered and whitewashed original interior radiates a lot of heat for such a behemoth. It rarely puffs smoke as long as a tepe fire is centered on the back wall.

Clearly these hearths were constructed by old-time methods. These houses were built by German masons on a classic German design influenced by English/Georgian design. Rumford would have been proud.

Again nice work, good luck with your ventures, and contact me with any questions about these. Reach me at my company, Red Oak Restorations, 12 Fleetwood Road, Fleetwood, PA 19522, or reply to my aol account.


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