Photo: Dan Reichard
This restoration of a circa 1780s summer kitchen demonstrates contemporary techniques for saving a piece of local history. Originally built on Water Edge Farm near Fisher, WV, the one and a half story log kitchen provided countless meals for the Harness and Fisher families until around 1850. Afterwards the kitchen became a wash house, smoke house and storage shed. Moving the structure to Paskell Hill saves it from future flooding.
Up to the middle of the 19th century most plantation kitchens were located in a separate, detached building away from the main living quarters. The separation cut down on the noise, odors, smoke and, most important, the danger of fire to the main house. A kitchen could catch on fire at any time with cooking taking place on an open hearth and with a continually burning fire.
The second floor housed the cook and family. In later years, farm hands roomed upstairs. One farmhand, Harry Duffy, lived in the upstairs room for 35 years.
A February 2010 fire completely destroyed the main plantation house but spared the old kitchen. Mike Crites grew up near Water Edge Farm and held a fascination for the house and farm. With the main house reduced to cinders, Mr. Crites undertook the task of saving the kitchen. Workers tagged each pine log of the structure, took it apart and trucked it five miles across the South Branch Valley to Paskell Hill. When re-assembling the building, the first log put in place on the new block foundation and wooden sub floor was the last log removed from the original building.
Rebar inserted in the logs stabilize the structure. The kitchen reaches four inches taller than before since it no longer sags. “New” old windows and doors replace rotted ones. A new tin roof substitutes for the former leaky covering. Over all, the restoration saved about 95 percent of the original structure.
Yet to come: a new chimney constructed of stones and brick from the old chimney. At restoration’s end the new kitchen will stand ready, once again, to serve up delicious meals.
Open courtesy of Mike Crites and Larry Curtis
Location: 114 Paskell Hill Drive, Moorefield
Directions: From South Fork Road, take Paskell Hill Drive which curves to the right.