Question: What do Thomas Jefferson's landmark residence Monticello have in common with 60 Cedar Lane in South Eastham on Cape Cod? A Rumford fireplace, that's what.
Designed for fuel efficiency, the Rumford fireplace was an 18th century 5-Star energy saver.
The unique fireplace construction was designed by Benjamin Thomas, born in 1753 in Massachusetts, but a later resident of Europe. He moved to first to England, and then to Germany where he became an expert in the study of heat.
Thomas was anointed "Count of the Holy Roman Empire" and given the noble surname von Rumford. By then his unique fireplace design attracted the attention of architects worldwide.
The Rumford fireplace is characterized by a rounded throat to slow the escape of hot air up the chimney, and by a wide and shallow opening to deflect heat back into the room.
Owing to the many New England homes built in the 18th and 19th centuries, Rumford fireplaces take a prominent place in many a Cape Cod home. In fact, the Rumford fireplace was a design feature in homes well into the 20th century as evidenced by the video, above, of a Rumford fireplace in a 1973 home for sale in South Eastham, near the Cape Cod National Seashore.
The intersection of heat efficiency and warmth of mood and temperature, a Rumford fireplace is just right for living rooms and family rooms throughout the U.S., 250 years after the birth of the inventor who gave the unique heating method its name.
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