Historic Kitchens 1890 to 1920: Design and Development


 

 

A butler’s pantry (1910) between kitchen and dining room was used for storing dishes, glasses and serving pieces. The wood cupboards and counter are similar to those that would have originally been in the kitchen. Mackie House Historic Site www.mackiehouse.ca

A butler’s pantry (1910) between kitchen and dining room was used for storing dishes, glasses and serving pieces. The wood cupboards and counter are similar to those that would have originally been in the kitchen. Again, there is no ‘toe-space’ at floor level. 
Mackie House Historic Site www.mackiehouse.ca 

 

After 1900 ‘Home economics’ was being taught for the first time, treating home planning and operation as more of a science, rather than mere survival.

In 1902, an “Ideal Kitchen” was described in ‘House Beautiful’ magazine:

            “Something along the lines of a Pullman-car kitchen, or a yacht’s galley or a laboratory [or] the scientific cleanliness of a surgery”

And in 1907, ‘Sanitary News’ wrote: 

            “the modern American home must have a perfect system of hot and cold water  supply; an inoffensive and sanitary system of disposing of household wastes; an adequate system of automatically controlled heating combined with ventilating; and a convenient complete system of artificial lighting”

These changes, though desirable, did not happen overnight. Many homes did not modernize until much later.  In homes where the unmarried daughter lived on in her parents’ house until her death – as late as the 1970’s or 1980’s – often nothing changed in the house.

An unchanged kitchen in an 1893 house with original wainscoting and a 1920’s stove. Note the drying rack over the stove controlled by a pulley system and a towel rack behind the stove. Photograph taken 1983.

An unchanged kitchen in an 1893 house with original wainscoting and a 1920’s stove. Note the drying rack over the stove controlled by a pulley system and a towel rack behind the stove. Photograph taken 1983. 

Two pictures from another ‘unchanged’ home. The stove, dating from around 1915 was still in use, as was the sink with its angled wooden draining boards. The original tongue and groove wainscoting was still in place from c1895. Photographs taken 1980’s.

Two pictures from another ‘unchanged’ home. The stove, dating from around 1915 was still in use, as was the sink with its angled wooden draining boards. The original tongue and groove wainscoting was still in place from c1895. Photographs taken 1980’s.Screen shot 2014-01-27 at 9.24.57 AM

By the 1920’s, modernization – for most households – was thoroughly underway.

Running water was in most homes in towns and cities, and gas was introduced as well, providing heat when required, with no hauling coal or wood to keep the fires burning.


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