Did you know that the whole concept of the home kitchen didn't really catch on until after 1900? In most homes of the late 1800s, the fireplace (and sometimes the wood-stove) served as the kitchen; however, once stoves became cheaper -- and running water and electricity became available -- people began setting up kitchens as their own room in the house. These photos let us see first hand how kitchens changed over time, as did the people who worked in them!
From watching Downton Abbey, we are no doubt familiar with this scene, which shows a working kitchen in Leicester, England around 1880. In the coming years as stoves became cheaper, the concept of a kitchen would start to spring up in single-family homes.
This early 1890's picture is one of the earliest-known photos inside a kitchen in a single-family home. It shows an early Niagara Stove Company stove set up as part of the wall in the house, with a pipe going directly out to a secondary chimney.
In many homes that were fortunate to have a "cooking stove", the stove itself became the centerpiece of the house, as seen in this 1896 photo of the residence of James Ballantyne of Ottawa. Photo from the BiblioArchives.
A Rare Look INSIDE 15 Early Kitchens (1880-1930)