For those of us who love history, finding anything old is a thrill and figuring out how to use it in our home is even better. Fireplace summer covers are antiques that can be used as accent pieces either inside or outside.
According to the Victorian Fireplace Shop, these beautiful metal structures were used to cover the opening of coal fireplaces. There were three parts: a surround that served as a frame around the fireplace opening, the grate that hung inside the fireplace, and the the cover door that mounted to the frame and attached from the outside. The door was removeable and was taken off when the fire was burning and reattached when the fire was out to keep cold air from coming down the chimney into the house. These doors worked much like fireplace glass doors do today. People would put the cover on when the fire burned out leaving hot coals to keep the house warm overnight.
Many of these ornate covers found today are missing the removable door. This is because during World War II, the government asked people to donate metal to the war effort so people donated their summer cover doors to the cause. Most of these doors were made from heavy cast iron but some were made from tin or brass.
Trish at Urban Remains in Chicago sells summer covers as well as other salvaged items from American vintage homes and businesses. “We specialize in American artifacts”, she explains. “I’ve seen people use the summer covers to hang as artwork in their homes or as ornamental pieces in their garden.” She says one customer bought several summer covers and made a beautiful display behind the bar area in his restaurant. At thisoldhouse.com, there’s a video showing how to make a log holder out of a summer cover.
Using antiques and salvaged wood makes a home interesting and unique. And these old items tell a story. Think outside the box and mix the old with the new for a “rustic modern” look that’s sure to start some great conversations when friends and family visit.