Vintage Kitchens Museum
Preserving the Past for the Future
As so many immigrant families came to America from countries in the British Isles, their traditions, folklore and recipes left lasting impressions on our cooking legacy.
In this kitchen, many of the furnishings, utensils and artifacts are the survivors of the great Atlantic crossing made by these brave pioneers. Carved shamrocks on rocking chairs and breakfronts, hand wrought iron English locks on windows and doors, crockery from Scotland and slate roof tiles made in Wales are just some of the UK’s influences on this early kitchen. Perhaps the most outstanding work of art in this charming Old World kitchen sits on a brick pedestal in the middle of the room. Imagine delicately hand painted tiles, completely wrapping the wood burning stove in a garden of floral blossoms. This gem has to be seen for it is too beautiful to cook on.
A painting of the family dog holds a royal place of honor, where it guards the bonnet topped cradle placed next to the stove for the baby’s comfort on chilly days. A brass handled pump provides water to a wooden bucket sitting in the dry sink under hand sawn beams.
The 1880's kitchen demonstrates a wonderful mosaic of European kitchen elements that have traveled from France, Germany, Austria and Italy to find a new place to call home in America.
The walls are lined from floor to ceiling with elaborate embossed tin tiles, giving the wall surface a sculpted patina. The room centers around a magnificently hand enameled floral decorated, coal burning stove from Austria, miraculously unscathed after 140 years. Over the back of the stove hangs a 9ft hand painted wall mural, which makes a beautiful backdrop for the hand wrought copper pots that hang on a turned spindle arch above the stove.
A large corner cupboard with original blue paint shows off prized china as it snuggles up against a period soapstone sink. A scrub top table with hand painted chairs sits beneath a superb pair of convex bejeweled glass windows, that transports the visitor to see the world from inside and outside as it looked around 1880's Europe in well to do houses.
The 1900's kitchen represents a style of living that those fortunate enough in having domestic help such as cooks and maids would have enjoyed.
The kitchen is on the ground floor of the house with a narrow staircase leading upstairs to the main dining room where food was served after it was prepared downstairs. Opulently appointed with a terra cotta tiled floor and glazed ceramic tiled walls, it was well stocked with the latest in appliances, utensils and has an upper loft for dry food storage. It boasts a dazzling bright blue enameled stove with enough chrome details to outfit the finest automobile.
Modern details for its day included dual sinks and multi door oak ice box. A massive farm table with high back embossed oak chairs fits like a glove in the large lace curtained bay window. The kitchen houses up to the minute cooking helpers such as a biscuit maker and an 8ft long pot rack that holds every size copper pot imaginable.
This kitchen says welcome the minute you cross the threshold and makes you imagine that you need to borrow a cup of sugar just to sneak a peek at how the other half lived.
This kitchen represents life on the home front during the World War I period. Wood burning stoves and block ice boxes were still in use and the kitchen was the focal point of family interaction.
This kitchen illustrates the laundry being a vital function of everyday life as the stove provided heat for the dual purpose of cooking food as well as drying clothes. In the cooler months, the stove was kept banked throughout the night to provide warmth as well as allowing clothes to hang on the wall mounted clothes rack to dry overnight.
A very unusual feature in this kitchen is its round cylindrical shape ice box. In its time it was considered the epitome of modernization as the food compartment situated under the ice compartment on top boasts a futuristic lazy Susan, making the contents easily accessible with a flick of the turntable.
This kitchen features a store bought baking center, still wearing its original label. This kitchen also boasts a beautiful oak ice box which intentionally was designed to look like an exquisite piece of furniture.
The wood burning stove is designed with art deco streamlined influences. A lovely round dining table, with high back chairs, provided the family with a central location for doing everything from eating to household budgeting to doing homework, mending socks and sewing Sunday dresses. Not a large room, the compact size demanded efficiency of space and utilization and encouraged family togetherness.
The color scheme of green, cream and peach were the “hot” colors of the time, with appliances and furniture designers making sure to incorporate them into their products.
Homemade braided and rag rugs were a common kitchen accessory and were the perfect statement of the housewife’s sewing skill and thriftiness in recycling every piece of used fabric. Whale oil light were still in use and thriftier homes still used homemade candles.
The 1930's kitchen reflects the carryover from the 1920's economic depression, and towards the end of the decade saw gas fueled appliances replacing wood burning stoves. The telephone was usually located in the kitchen or its adjacent hallway as this modern lifeline was of paramount importance to communication outside the use of the farm bell.
This kitchen features a baked on enamel coated steel ice box as well as a woodless stove. Electricity provided a light source, not requiring whale oil or candles. Food was now being bought and consumed from stores in town. More elaborate meals were presented on the table as the gas burning stove allowed the cook to control the temperature of the food being prepared in the oven.
The dining room of this period was usually appointed with furniture of oak or mahogany. The dining room table was usually reset for the next meal of the day after the consumption of the last. Great pride was taken in home décor as the economy slowly rebounded after the 20's depression.
This beautifully appointed foyer with its oval beveled glass door welcomes visitors with a large European floor mosaic of St George and the Dragon. It sits directly in front of an elaborately carved and spindle breakfront displaying fine hand painted porcelain and majolica, all very much status symbols of this era.
The cast iron fireplace is decorated with hand painted tiles and embellished with marble and brick. The crystal prisms hanging on the hand painted whale oil lamp was a fabulous gift to the museum from the Brock collection of antiquities. The iron umbrella stand is hand cast wrought iron and dates from 1860-1890. The silk plaid wall covering originated in Europe and the turned fretwork formed the arch entry to the European kitchen. The marble topped table was used to hold calling cards so the visitor could be announced as an honored guest.
Perhaps no other architectural feature is more demonstrative of a particular building style than the gingerbread porch is to the Victorian period. With its turned columns, spindle and ball details and scalloped eyelet trim, it remains to this day, a testimony to the ingratiating appeal of its lacework adornment.
In its day, in the middle of the 1800's, it was the epitome of a protected sanctuary held sacred to those who dwelled in the house, and aspired to by all who did not. Outfitted with wicker furniture, plant stands, swings and a spindled boundary of wood or iron railing, it defined a deliberately constructed space for relaxation, gathering and courting on starlit nights.
In life styles that celebrated hard work and productivity, it was the rewarding gift of a day well spent and a harem for rest, peace and contemplation. Most important of all, it welcomed dreams of what could be and ways to make wishes come true.
As the porch was usually the final adornment, the bejeweled necklace on the house, it was often crowned with a whimsical but important feature. To forever ensure the happiness and prosperity of those dwelling within the home’s embrace, it was believed that a token of thanks should be offered for its successful completion. A birdhouse was constructed with the leftover pieces of wood and was placed securely on top of the house in a protected niche of the roof. It would stay on the house as a symbol of welcome and shelter to Mother Natures little feathered messengers. It was believed that these little couriers would spread the word of the house’s good intentions wherever they flew and that the house would always be blessed and safe from harm.
Violet's Tearoom & Sweetery
c1900 - 1920
As the population of America at this time was dwelling in cities, small towns or the country, for many a trip into town was an occasion to look forward to.
For women, the luxury of having a tea room was a feminine sanctuary, because the gossip and social doings of the community were always the hot topics of conversation. Politically minded women used tea rooms as a vital component of the Suffragette movement. Using secret codes and specific clothing accessories, sympathizers could identify each other by the particular flower (violet) on their bodice or hat, or by choosing the violet cake decoration or the crystalized violet on their “sweet.”
This tearoom with its extraordinary wall screen depicting the tea merchants of Venice provided not only an exotic atmosphere but also served, as its sister tearooms, a Suffragette underground railroad to secure the voting rights of women. Men never knew that behind the lace curtained windows, sandwiches and sugary delights that the determination and cleverness of a well planned espionage network operating right under their noses existed.
1890's General Store
As settlements grew and towns were established, the General store was the central resource for most necessary goods and services. It truly was a one stop shop that saw every member of the community pass through its doors to purchase or barter for all of their life support.
This General Store is an example of the multi purpose reasons for “going into town.” Built on a split level design to make the most efficient use of space, the upper level displays:
A full and original barber shop from Madison, Georgia.
The post office furnishings are from Sycamore, Georgia.
A compounding pharmacy from North Georgia.
A dentist office with the original drill and chair from coastal Georgia.
On the lower level, everything from clothes, shoes, millenary, fabrics, notions, housewares, home goods, tobacco, hardware, farm implements, tack, fresh produce, dairy, meats, teas, coffees and even bathtubs.
The proprietor usually wore several hats to provide the desired services needed. Even marriages were on the menu. This store holds over 1000 authentic artifacts.