Date of Award

12-2013

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Legacy Department

Historic Preservation

Advisor

Hudgins, Carter

Committee Member

Leifeste, Amalia

Committee Member

Ryan, Elizabeth

Abstract

The stew stove found in the kitchen of the Aiken-Rhett House in Charleston, South Carolina is a rare and well-preserved example of antebellum stew stove technology. This masonry stove was installed in the main kitchen of Governor William Aiken in 1858 and contains six cast iron stew holes and a set kettle. Masonry cook stoves appeared in the United States as early as the mid-eighteenth century. Stoves like this were not an American invention. A French device known as the potager is the predecessor and inspiration for such devices. This potager eased the cook's labors in preparing meals and offered more accurate control over cooking temperature. These features enabled the creation of a cuisine unrivaled in delicacy and refinement. French cuisine became the desired choice for the elite society of both Europe and America. The stew stove in William Aiken's kitchen has proven to be not only rare but an entirely unique entity. This stove does not represent one particular type of cooking technology. Its design combined elements from the traditional French potager with current 1850's iron cooking technology. The result was a custom cooking stove designed to meet the specific needs of its owner.

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