In the early to mid 1880's, our Great Grandfather built this outdoor bread oven from limestone he'd mined, transported and fitted into shape. The stone was cut from right here on the property. As you can see, the area is now overgrown severely, having been abandoned for decades. Many years ago, the huge chimney 5' wide and at least 16' to 18' tall had been knocked down by a tree. I hauled that portion home in 1994 (with permission from the new owner). The property was sold in 1974 and later purchased by the contractor my son, brother and nephew work for.
A little more clearly visible is the old oven, viewed from the chimney end. In this end of the photo is the tree that took it down. Also the deteriorated condition is more visible. The dimensions were a little over 7' in length, approximately 4' in width and the height was not discernable when we begun due to the decades of dirt washed against and inside it.
This process began last fall when my brother got permission from his boss to retrieve the remaining pieces of the oven from our past in the hope we could build at least one and possibly two of a different style from the parts.
The top stone slab alone measures approximately 4' in width, more than 7' in length and more than 7" in thickness. Imagine moving this stone with nothing but a mule, pry bars and a hand hewn sled made of logs then positioning it on top of the walls without disturbing the mortar. An extremely conservative guestimate on the weight of this single stone would top 1,500 pounds we're guessing. If I knew the weight per cubic foot, a more exact figure could be obtained.
There is only two of the older generation left, in their early 90's and they do not remember being there when our Great Grandmother would fire the oven, but an aunt that died recently (at 93 +or-) told us she remembered 16 loaves of bread at a time coming out of it.
Obviously the bent bough or hand hewn timber and tin covering has deteriorated many years past and the oven has been exposed to the elements for a long time. I'm 63 and can remember climbing all over this thing as a kid playing with the younger cousins and there was nothing covering it then.
As you can see, there is little of the mortar left in the joints. Also quite evident is the physical size of a lot of the stones in the walls. A sidebar..... The house he built in that timeframe was a two story brick house. A large house was required because he had 15 children. What's unique about the bricks though is that they were hand fired clay bricks.
The clay was also dug on the farm. Great supposition exists that this oven was used originally to fireharden the clay brick molds while they lived in a log cabin during contruction of the new home. Of course serving double duty for cooking. Unfortunately all of the information that could confirm the suggestions has been taken to the grave by the generations long past.
So, what do you think so far? Too much drivel and diatribe accompanying the photos ??