In the writing room right now ...

In the writing room right now ... I am working on book #3 in the Winds of Freedom series, a teen adventure series set in the 1850s in North Danville, Vermont. My 1852 Vermont adventure THIS ARDENT FLAME is scheduled for June 2021 publication with Five Star/Cengage -- I will give you updates and early order information as soon as I know! I'm also writing a memoir; revising a mystery; in the midst of a novel about a grandmother and her granddaughter; and always writing poems. Yes, I guess I do like multi-tasking! How about you?

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Secret Rooms and Chimneys

photo courtesy of timmurtagh
The discussion that Jane Lindholm hosted on Vermont Public Radio last month, with historian and professor Ray Zirblis and me, covered a lot of aspects of Vermont's Underground Railroad and some of the passions and confusions around whether and where people may have hidden during the years before the Civil War, in Vermont. (Short summary: Mostly, they didn't need to -- because Vermont stood for personal liberty.) One point made a couple of times is that Vermont contractors often know about hiding places in old houses, because they find them during reconstruction and repairs. Here's a great comment from contractor and designer Sam Clark, of Sam Clark Design:

I have one bit of information on secret rooms around chimneys.

A lot of old farmhouses had those huge central chimneys, which could easily be 8x8 feet.  But they became obsolete with the invention of modern wood stoves in the 19th c, or even gas or oil heat.  So, two ideas: the framers had a certain way of framing houses, which allowed for these big chimneys, which they didn't vary when technology changed.
Also, sometimes these old chimneys were torn down, and rebuilt as simple brick flues, without changing the walls around them much.  We're working on a house in Maine where you can see the remnants of the big chimney, but there is a secret room around the "modern" 16x24 chimney.
Thanks, Sam, for this information!

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