Explain to me… the decorative fireplace. If you have never lived anywhere but Pittsburgh, you may never have thought about what a ragingly stupid concept this is. So think of it now: it’s 19-0-whatever, you’re building a drafty brick Victorian house in a part of the country that’s under snow for 4 months of the year – do you build a fake fireplace that doesn’t have a chimney, doesn’t burn any wood, and doesn’t provide any warmth? Do you build seven of them?? In the same house??!
Mr. TR and I are madly house-hunting, combing real estate websites, trying to use Google StreetView as a substitute for actually driving by properties and checking for crazy neighbors or sewage smells, and a good number of the houses in the neighborhoods we’re searching are plagued with an infestation of superfluous fake fireplaces. Some are flagrantly fake, like the one to the left – just a wooden mantel glued to the wall. Others are slightly better replicas – the type that actually has a small bricked-up indentation in the wall with a mantel over it. Still others appear to be actual fireplaces that have just had their flues bricked closed… until you look at the outside views of the house and see no chimney.
Wait, did I say “chimney?” Because I meant “chimneys.” Because these decorative fireplaces travel in packs. If a house has one, it has five. There are phony fireplaces in the living room, the dining room, the master bedroom, the kids’ rooms, the bathrooms, anywhere someone might need a little extra heat and be longing for a warm crackling fire – you’ll find a mocking reminder that there will be no warm crackling fire.
I cannot understand what these early 20th century architect people were thinking. Were they thinking, “The radiators and coal heaters already provide so much reliable heat, a woodburning fireplace would just be overkill?” Were they thinking, “No one around here can afford wood, but that doesn’t mean they don’t deserve a beautiful useless fireplace?” Or were they thinking, “Oh shit, we forgot to build five chimneys, what do we do now?”
People. I think there are more working fireplaces in Oz-tin than there are in Pittsburgh. I don’t have to tell you how pathetic that is. Texas needs fireplaces like it needs a hole in the head. I know there are charms to Pittsburgh architecture, but at least the Pittsburgh potty has some utility. Decorative fireplaces? That’s just a tease.
Photos from actual properties for sale at http://pittsburghmoves.com/default.aspx.