Shoveling Coal for Heat

By
Real Estate Agent with FALCON PROPERTY SOLUTIONS
http://actvra.in/cht

COAL CHUTES

A friend in New England recently lost electricity for several days.  I thought that it was a good thing that it was summer and not winter, even though the lack of running water became an issue.  But it got me to thinking about the Victorian Homes that I love so much, most of which were built before the advent of the common use of electricity in homes.

Coal ChuteAlmost all of the Victorian houses that I sell have a coal chute, usually along the alleyway or a driveway. Even now, the City has an easement on most of those alleyways that was deeded in the late 1800s.  The chute, generally located in the foundation wall, was commonly a hinged door, normally made out of metal because the coal was damp and would freeze during transport. The door would open on to an angled tunnel.

Each week the Coal Trucks would deliver the week’s fuel through these angled openings and it would dump the coal into a room that was specially designated to hold the coal, usually in the basement next to the furnace.  To this day, the walls of those rooms are stained black.

If you didn’t have a coal chute, then the coal was carried to the basement in a wheelbarrow, or men were hired that carried it in bags to the basement.  They were called “Lumpers” (because they carried lumps of coal).

There was an invention made by Robert Riley called a Riley Stoker.  Mr. Riley manufactured Boilers, and he invented a covered-conveyor machine, green in color, where the trucks could dump the coal into a hopper inside the chute.  Then an auger-type system would transport the coal directly from the hopper to the furnace without the homeowner ever having to shovel or touch the coal.  Those were found, more often than not, in the larger Victorian homes where the owners were wealthier. Conveyor Stoker

It was common for the elements to enter through this metal hatch, and often the foundation walls will have century-old water stains beneath the chute.  While you, of course, would always have an inspection when purchasing any home, these stains are not generally something that would be a cause of concern in your turn-of-the-Century purchase.

Coal Chutes was written by Mimi Foster

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 Colorado Springs Realtor Mimi Foster 

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Rainer
322,605
Don MacLean
Simolari & MacLean REMAX EXECUTIVE REALTY - Franklin, MA
Realtor - Homes For Sale - Franklin MA

I found this posting very amusing as well as educational. No need to refund any money.

Thanks

Enjoy the day

Jun 12, 2011 08:06 AM #1
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Mimi Foster
FALCON PROPERTY SOLUTIONS - Colorado Springs, CO
Voted Colorado Springs Best Realtor

Thanks so much, Don.  Welcome aboard!

Jun 12, 2011 08:24 AM #2
Rainmaker
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Jim Frimmer
HomeSmart Realty West - San Diego, CA
Realtor & CDPE, Mission Valley specialist

I think all of our turn-of-the-century homes are now museums in our city parks!

Jun 12, 2011 09:45 AM #3
Rainmaker
506,041
Cal Yoder
Keller Williams Elite - Lititz, PA
Homes For Sale in Lancaster PA - 717.413.0744

Mimi, I still remember when my grandparents burned coal. They had a window which could be opened and a coal bin in the basement where the coal was stored. The window opened into the bin and was unloaded from the truck into the bin. How much things have changed!

Cal

Jun 12, 2011 10:14 AM #4
Rainmaker
306,980
Mike Wong
Keller Williams Realty Southwest - Sugar Land, TX
Realtor: Commercial, Residential, Leasing, Invest

Mimi that was very educational. I have never seen such a thing in Houston. We have not been good about preserving historical properties in the past, and I wonder if we ever had anything like this here.

Jun 12, 2011 12:31 PM #5
Rainer
106,447
Elizabeth Byrne
Keller Williams Realty - Arlington, VA
Arlington Virginia Real Estate

Mimi, this is a very educational post. I love Victorian homes too, but there are not many around my area. I love the nooks, build-ins, porches, and other elements tupical of Victorian homes. I have never, though, seen a coal chute. I will pay more attention when visiting a Victorian house in the future.

Jun 12, 2011 01:20 PM #6
Rainmaker
592,421
William J. Archambault, Jr.
The Real Estate Investment Institute - Houston, TX

My Grandparents got one of those feeders when I was about 10 it meant I didn't have to shovel coal when I was visiting, I love it, Yes it was green.

A year later Grampa discovered that I was now tall enought to fill the hopper.

I hated shoveling coal, but I'd do anything for another hour with my Grampa!

Bill

Jun 12, 2011 02:22 PM #7
Anonymous
Nick Hahn

My house growiing up had the exact coal chute you descibe to a T, the family finally converted to oil but kept the coal bin as a storage room--enjoy your posts Mimi, always fun, always informative and always well written.

nick

 

Jun 12, 2011 02:43 PM #8
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Kathy Streib
Room Service Home Staging - Delray Beach, FL
Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224

Mimi- being born and raised in the south... I was unfamiliar with basements until we moved to Leesburg, VA.  Of course by then we were using gas.  Very interesting information and thank you for continuing to teach us new things.

Jun 12, 2011 03:51 PM #9
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Debe Maxwell, CRS
www.AtHomesCharlotte.com | The Maxwell House Group | RE/MAX Executive | (704) 491-3310 - Charlotte, NC
Charlotte Homes for Sale - Charlotte Neighborhoods

Too funny but, I JUST told a client yesterday what one of those was on a home we were viewing!  And, it's exactly where you say they're located and for the same purpose!  This one was on a cute bungalow home in one of our historic districts, built back in the 30's.

Jun 12, 2011 04:44 PM #10
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Steve Hoffacker
Steve Hoffacker LLC - West Palm Beach, FL
Certified Aging In Place Specialist-Instructor

Mimi,

I remember having a coal chute and coal room. Good post. :)

Steve

Jun 12, 2011 05:40 PM #11
Rainer
483,138
Larry O'Sullivan
Sandy, UT

Mimi - a history lesson with an engineering bent. Very well done. I enjoyed being informed.

Jun 13, 2011 01:06 AM #12
Ambassador
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Mimi Foster
FALCON PROPERTY SOLUTIONS - Colorado Springs, CO
Voted Colorado Springs Best Realtor

Good morning, Jim.  Hope you had a great weekend.

Hey, Cal.  How was the wedding? I'm surprised at the people who remember the coal bins.

Mike ~ I am not very familiar with Houston architecture.  Do you have basements in Houston?

Wow, Virginia, that really surprises me.  I would have thought that you would have a lot of them. Hope you're well.

 

Jun 13, 2011 01:48 AM #13
Ambassador
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Mimi Foster
FALCON PROPERTY SOLUTIONS - Colorado Springs, CO
Voted Colorado Springs Best Realtor

Oh, Bill, that is so neat that you remember your grandfather so fondly.  As I spent time with my grandkids yesterday, I thought about what I want them to remember from me.  Not a whole lot that replaces love . . .

Thank you so much for your comments, Nick.  You're always such an encouragement.

That is a strange phenomenom, Kathy.  Florida was home, but we spent a lot of time in CA while I was growing up.  When I got to CO, basements were such a novelty.  Now it's RARE that I find a home that doesn't have a basement, and it is a big drawback in the sale.

Interesting, Debe.  I have to admit, with the hundreds of Vintage homes that I've sold, I've never seen a Riley Stoker.  I would love to.  And best of luck this week in Seattle.

Jun 13, 2011 02:18 AM #14
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Mimi Foster
FALCON PROPERTY SOLUTIONS - Colorado Springs, CO
Voted Colorado Springs Best Realtor

Good morning, Steve.  Thank you so much.  My grandparents had an Arts and Crafts home, but again, it was in Florida, and there was no basement.

Thank you, Larry.  Hope you have a prosperous day.

Jun 13, 2011 02:21 AM #15
Rainer
170,724
Robert Butler
Aspect Inspection - Montreal West Island, QC
Montreal Home Inspector | Aspect Inspection

Nice article Mimi. Those blower/hopper feeders were electrically powered so they were a more recent introduction. The basic systems were hand feed (shovelled) and relied on a good draft to burn properly.

Jun 13, 2011 03:22 AM #16
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Mimi Foster
FALCON PROPERTY SOLUTIONS - Colorado Springs, CO
Voted Colorado Springs Best Realtor

Thanks for your always insightful comments, Bob

Jun 13, 2011 04:22 AM #17
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Steve Hoffacker
Steve Hoffacker LLC - West Palm Beach, FL
Certified Aging In Place Specialist-Instructor

Mimi,

 

Congratulations, this post is now featured in the AR Group "Americana." :)

Steve

Jun 13, 2011 06:16 PM #18
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Mimi Foster
FALCON PROPERTY SOLUTIONS - Colorado Springs, CO
Voted Colorado Springs Best Realtor

Thank you, Steve! I sure appreciate it!

Jun 13, 2011 06:38 PM #19
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