Figuring out the kitchen and the original layout.

No part of the Crow’s Nest has changed as much as the kitchen wing. I had a couple different ideas of what it originally looked like but nothing concrete. I knew it had originally been a series of rooms as was customary of that time but recently I reached out the Schaefers to see if they could remember what the layout was. I imagine that at some point I will be able to learn more once we redo the kitchen and I open up the walls. However Judy and Janice solved some major questions and confirmed some theories. Not only did Judy give me a photo from 1951 of the original back porch but she also remembered the layout of the original kitchen!

I originally thought that the 1890s kitchen was replaced in the 1920s or at the latest the 1950s as was common, but somehow it survived till the very late 1960s. The photograph below is from 1998 and shows the porch enclosed.

As for anything original to the 1890s kitchen we have very little to go off of. All the original windows, trim, doors, and cabinetry are long gone. However…..

We have the Kitchen Sink!

I was also lucky enough that Janice, Judy’s sister, sent me a photo of the kitchen from the 1950s. Out of respect to her privacy I blurred her face. I am lucky here because 1. It shows me that the original door trim matched the upstairs bedroom trim. 2. It shows there was in fact a kitchen door to the dinning room. 3. The kitchen sink did not have legs. 4. The kitchen sink did not have a cabinet under it. 5. We think it shows picture rail in the dinning room!

As for the layout of the space, here is the current plan.

The current layout of the First Floor. This has been the layout roughly since 2005. The finishes changed slightly but not much else has changed.

However I have been able to work with Judy and Janice to figure out the original layout.

So what have I learned from this? Based off this layout I now know that the basement stairs have been replaced with modern concrete ones. We lost and gained windows. We did not loose much cabinetry, besides some in the pantry I am guessing. I knew we were missing 4 original doors: Upstairs bedroom, the double doors between the living room and dinning room, and the exterior kitchen door. Now I know we are missing 2 exterior doors, a pantry door, a laundry door, a basement stair door, a door between the kitchen and dinning room, double doors, and an upstairs bedroom door.

The 1893 layout is interesting to me. It is what we would call an unfitted kitchen. An unfitted kitchen is a kitchen that does not have many or no built in cabinets or countertops but rather instead uses cabinets and furniture that can be moved to wherever the user needed. Often it had a center table that served as prep space as well as a place to take informal meals. The center table is sort of like our modern kitchen island. You would grab what you need and bring it to the table.

In many ways an unfitted kitchen is useful. It allows the owner the freedom to rearrange how they please and allows them to take what they had if they chose to move.

One person I follow online is Paige of Farmhouse Vernacular. I love watching her videos and her style is exactly what I wish to achieve here at the Crow’s Nest. She does so much research and is a fountain of knowledge that I often reference in my own research. She recently restored her kitchen to roughly the 1914 period and while it is not for me, I love the results. Below is the video where she explains unfitted kitchens.

While we are not going to restore the kitchen back to its original layout and finishes this does help me understand the history of the house and gives me insight into how to incorporate the house’s past into its future. For instance, when we remodel the kitchen, I plan on reusing the kitchen sink as a prep sink or maybe incorporate it into the future mudroom. I also plan on duplicating the trim upstairs to be used in the kitchen, just like it was 127 years ago. Up Next week….finishing the front door.

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