Mankind has been making fire and using it for warmth, cooking and industry since the earliest days of our evolution. After all, the purpose of creating fireplaces goes back to our most elemental needs.
As humans evolved, the need to further control fires became important. Let’s take a look at the history of the fireplace and how it has evolved over time.
The first fireplaces date back to the time of the Roman Empire. At that time, the fireplace (in such a manner as we know it now) was looked at as a luxury amenity—it was only found in the homes of wealthier citizens. These fireplaces were made from stone, but the stones would have to be changed out frequently due to the high temperatures and the minimal technology available at the time for protection against heat and flame.
The development and advancement in ironworking changed the way fireplaces were constructed. Iron slabs would be placed in the walls of fireplaces to afford greater protection, which helped the stone last longer.
This format lasted until the mid-17th century, at which point the architect Louis Savot (who also helped design the Louvre) invented a type of fireplace that would draw air through areas underneath the hearth and behind the grate. The air would then be discharged through a grill in the mantel. This format is still seen on many fireplaces today and helps to better direct airflow.
Eventually, fireplaces became more of a necessity than a luxury. The Victorian period saw a lot of expansion in the use of fireplaces, and the fireplace became just as much an aesthetic focal point in homes and businesses as a necessary part of the home’s infrastructure. Stonemasons would be brought in specifically to create unique and appealing fireplace designs that would be the centerpiece of a home’s living area.
Benjamin Franklin once designed a fireplace system of his own, a cast iron stove that would help to heat the space in a living area. His idea was to have a fireplace in the center of the room.
Perhaps the most important advancements in fireplace design and development came from David Rittenhouse, who added on a 90-degree bent pipe at the back of a stove to direct smoke out the chimney and out of the home, so people would not have to worry about smoke from the fire permeating their living spaces. This also significantly reduced the risk of fire spreading.
Today, the sheer variety of fireplaces and the fuels they use is enormous. Wood fireplaces are still used in houses all over the world, and natural gas fireplaces have also earned a significant share of the market. Fireplaces are still used for warmth in some areas, particularly those that are extremely remote, but in the United States they are frequently present primarily for aesthetic purposes and pure enjoyment.
Want to learn more about fireplace history and how fireplaces have evolved over the years? Contact Marcell’s Specialties Inc. today to schedule a consultation.
Categorised in: Fireplaces
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