Our Charter Oak Parlor Stove
After we moved from the Central Valley of California to the Pacific Northwest, it took me three years to cool off. True story. My internal thermostat was all out of whack. I’m one of those people who’re always warm, so when I say it’s chilly, people in the immediate vicinity sneer, roll their eyes, and shrug deeper into their parkas.
Lately I’ve thought it would be nice to sit in front of a fireplace. Since we don’t have one and price estimates indicate we won’t be building one…my husband suggested a wood-burning stove. These are lovely devices. So we trundled on down to Portland and did some research. I love antique parlor stoves but some of the modern ones are pretty amazing too. Eventually we settled for an antique stove since we aren’t using it to heat the house. The cool thing is, once everything is in place, future occupants could swap it out for a modern stove and heat the entire structure.
I knew cast iron heating furnaces, stoves and ovens had been around for a long time, but I didn’t know the style we’re accustomed to seeing, have measured almost 300 years. Yep. The appearance has changed with the flavor of the times, but for the most part, not the working mechanism.
When we bought our house there was a modern woodburning stove in place, but we got rid of it for reasons like safety and longevity. The former owners liked to burn, and burn, and burn some more. Pyro much? They had a penchant for immolating EVERYTHING and the dilapidated stove they left behind was a true fire hazard. Not to mention the hinky way the pipe funneled up through the middle of the house left some doubts about the legality of the set-up.
So we’ve been busy here at the old homestead. By “we” I mean my husband, since he does the labor and I watch. Our (this is the royal “our”), latest project has involved installation of the aforesaid wood-burning stove.
We opted for an antique parlor stove, and since we have a simple home, we looked for one that was not too over-the-top on detail. I love Victorian-era stoves. They’re covered with nickel-plated filagree and while smashing in appearance, would look absurd in our humble little house.
The parlor stove we acquired is in excellent condition. With a coat of stoveblack and some nickel polish, the old girl looks pretty darn near new. The interior is in remarkably good shape, which is great news. This stove has been in regular use over the decades but was never the only heat source and that reduces the instances of heat-fracturing, the stress of metal fatigue, and curtails the probability of future problems stemming from habitual overheating.
Mostly she just needed a good cleaning. It’s amazing what some serious scrubbing can do. Polishing the nickel-plated parts took a lot of work, so my husband is the hero for doing all the hard stuff. Again.
Our stove was manufactured by the Charter Oak Stove & Furnace Company which opened it’s doors in 1848. We have style #410 which is a smaller size stove (by comparison to some), and while being stylish, is simpler in design than earlier models. Charter Oak was born under the name of the Excelsior Manufacturing Company of St. Louis, Missouri. The parent company produced heating sources and munitions (especially during the Civil War), right up until 1949.
I’m very pleased. There are advantages to newer models, true, but this is not our only heating source for the house, so we can afford to be contrary. I like that we saved a snippet of history and gain a warmer downstairs as a bonus. The entire family will be able to enjoy sitting and reading in front of a lovely hot parlor stove for another generation.
Ladies – we should all be so fine at 100 years of age. I’ll post an update with fresh photos when she’s installed and operating.
Have you rescued any bits of history lately? When did you last curl up in front of the flames? What gets you toasty warm?