description of the “kitchen”

The Roseberry homestead’s attached “kitchen” is a later addition. It is a one-and-a-half story stone structure with a stone chimney rising from the gable end. The exterior dimensions are 20’1” wide by 18’1” deep. The construction is rough quarried limestone; the masonry is generally coursed, with substantial (but not uniformly shaped) quoins on the northeast and southeast corners. The are no quoins on the corners abutting the main house—a sure indication that the kitchen was an addition. Careful measurements show that only three walls were built—the west wall is shared with the main house. The building is sited on a slope with the entry on the lower side so that a 5′ stairs is needed to enter the front door. There was a wooden porch that extended the full width of the building, but that was razed many years ago. There is a single window opening on the front (dimensions 3′ x 5’6”) and a smaller window/access opening to the crawl space under the kitchen floor, located approximately in the center of the structure. Both the entrance and the window openings have flat arches with modest keystones. The dimensions of the front entrance opening are 3′ x 6’6”. The front door has apparently not survived, but large portions of a 9/6 double-hung window, identical to those in the main block are in place. The present roof is cedar shingle. There is an inscription of some sort in a corner stone on the southeast corner, but it is largely unreadable.

There are no windows on the ground floor of the southeast side (the gable end) of the building, but there is a single window high in the gable, offset to the left rather than centered on the gable. There is a rear window opening on the north (uphill) side of the structure, approximately centered. There is also a rear entrance, whose center is approximately 4′ from the northwest corner. That entrance, like the window opening, has the same dimensions as the front entrance.

The walls are approximately 16″-17″ thick at the level of the windows. The interior dimensions of the room are 18’5½” wide and 15’2” deep. There is a large fireplace on the gable end, approximately 10′ wide, with a shallow removed oven with a brick arch in the upper left corner. There is a wide plank mantelpiece with a mantle shelf above the fireplace opening that is supported by scrolled modillions; I do not believe it is original. To the right of the fireplace is an enclosed closet and to the right of that is a plank door opening to a winder stairs that leads to the loft. The other three walls have a wide chair rail molding just below the level of the windows. The height of the ceiling is 8’4½;” The walls and ceiling, as with the neighboring rooms in the main block, consist of painted plaster. The original color has not yet been determined. Casement and moldings are nondescript. An 8” plank baseboard with a beaded cap runs the perimeter of the room.

The flooring is wide board (15-18”) and some, but not all appear to be original. There is a crawl space beneath the floor that currently contains a lot of debris; a cursory examination turned up three 2½” hand-wrought nails, part of an ancient shovel and a redware shard, all of which are consistent with a late 18th century date. Its original depth is unknown. At least one of the original joists was an unsawn log, about 15 inches in diameter—portions of it remain. All of the current joists are on 20″ or 22″ centers. Access to the main block of the homestead is through a door on the side opposite the fireplace, with three steps up to the floor level of the living room (the right front room). Aside from the flat arch openings, the structure is devoid of any type of decorative treatment.

The garret space above the kitchen has the same dimensions as the ground floor. All walls in this space have been plastered and whitewashed. Flooring consists of medium-to-wide width wood plank. The single square window opening in the gable provides the only source of light. There is an identical window opening on the opposite wall (part of the main house), which is now available as a secondary access from the right front bedroom on the second floor. The ceiling consists of open roof rafters and collar beams.

This structure follows a common plan. There is direct access from the outside to the heated living areas of what could have been a standalone dwelling. That room was generally the site of all day-to-day functions of the house—cooking, eating, craftwork and sleeping. The standard dimensions for one-room houses of the period were 16-18 feet by 18-20 feet; this portion of the Roseberry homestead, thus, is quite typical for the late eighteenth century. The plan was so common that some experts estimate similar dwellings (including those built of wood or brick) housed 85 percent of the inhabitants of the Delaware Valley at the end of the eighteenth century. [Lanier, Everyday Architecture of the Mid-Atlantic, 12]

Here’s my draft of the floor plan; I think it’s pretty close to an accurate representation.

kitchen-floor-plan