Mantle and Hearth
Not only were times changing, so were fireplaces …
The fireplace featured in this photograph is located in the dining room of the D.D. Collins House. The period appropriate hearths for each of the two fireplaces in the Collins House were originally located in the Olin House in what is known as the Fairmont area in Alton, Illinois.
The hearths were secured for this project by contractor, Joe Hutton of Miller Maack.
Each of the two period appropriate fireplace mantles in the D.D. Collins House came from a house in Edwardsville, Illinois. The Edwardsville Historic Preservation Commission made this generous gift to the D.D. Collins House project.
The fireplaces have come a long way since this photo was taken at the Christmas Open House Tour in 2015.
While fireplaces served as the gathering place in the house, by the time the Collins House was constructed in the early 1840s, the design of the fireplace had changed. The period in history known as the Industrial Revolution gave birth to larger scale housing developments, and this created the necessity for a smaller, more standardized fireplace.
Fireplaces continued to be centered on the wall to allow more family members to gather around to seek the warmth they generated, but their shape had changed, going from a large open design where food could also be cooked, to a smaller size. By the mid-1800s, fireplaces were being constructed with two parts: (1) the insert where the heat was generated, and (2) a decorative surround that included side supports as well as the mantle.