Kenmore’s Kitchen: Then & Now

The brick kitchen building next to Historic Kenmore is not original to the property. It was built in the 1930s in the colonial revival architectural style popular at that time.

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The brick construction does not reflect the kitchen building seen in the earliest known photo of such a building at Kenmore.  That image, taken around the time of the Civil War, shows a large wooden kitchen to the north of the house as well two enslaved people standing in the kitchen yard.

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The wooden kitchen can be seen to the left of the house in this Civil War-era photograph.

The Kenmore Association, a group of women who saved the mansion and transformed the property into a historic site open to the public, built the brick kitchen in the 1930s.

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Inside the brick kitchen just after construction was completed in the 1930s.

Throughout much of the 20th century, visitors sat around the table in the photo above to enjoy gingerbread and tea served by the ladies of the Kenmore Association.

Recently, we decided to highlight these ladies and their efforts to preserve Kenmore even more during our tours. We felt the most logical of places to do this was in the kitchen where they served their famed gingerbread and tea.

We placed a tea set and faux gingerbread on the same table used to serve visitors for so many years. We surrounded that table with many of the same ladderback chairs, though most of their seats have been re-caned. We returned some of the china and the china cupboard that had stood for so long in the kitchen back to that space.

While we cannot serve actual gingerbread and tea – modern-day museum guidelines prohibit food service inside historic structures – we can discuss the Kenmore Association’s monumental efforts to save Kenmore and make the mansion accessible to the public. You can read about these efforts here.  Although it does not date back to Kenmore’s very beginning, the 80-year-old brick kitchen is still a part of the site’s centuries-long story.

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