The Antique Stove at the former Harvard Public Library building, now Fivesparks

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The Historical Society’s purchase of an 1894 parlor stove assures its rightful home in Harvard.

In keeping with the mission to preserve Harvard’s identity, the HHS Board of Directors voted to purchase the antique parlor stove that once warmed the 1886 Harvard Public Library, now Fivesparks.  So that more people may enjoy its Victorian beauty in its original location, the stove will remain in Fivesparks on permanent loan.

Previously bought and restored by David Erickson of Leominster, the stove has been at Fivesparks since late 2019. At that time Erickson brought it to Fivesparks to display along with 13 other Victorian stoves he has collected and restored. Because of the pandemic, the exhibit was delayed until January 2022. The parlor stove had been for sale since then, and although Erickson had out-of-state offers, he said he hoped it could remain in the old library, where it lived most of its life

Erickson, who owns Erickson’s Antique Stoves, located in the old Littleton train depot on Taylor Road, told the story of how he happened upon this Victorian stove and how he restored it. One day in the early 1990s, Erickson took his two elementary school-aged kids, Lauren and Zach, to the public library to do homework. They were downstairs in the stacks when Erickson spotted the base of an old, rusty, cast iron stove off in a corner. The custodian told him there were more pieces in the back. Erickson said it took five years and five presentations to get the library trustees to sell him the stove.

The parlor stove is an 1894 Estate Oak Radiator, as printed clearly on the back. Erickson explained that “Estate” is the name of the stove company in Hamilton, Ohio, that would have shipped the stove to Harvard. The company patented the stove between 1892 and 1894 and would have manufactured the same model for about 10 years. Companies made each stove in a progression of #14” #16”and #18”, indicating the diameter of the firebox. The front of this stove reads “6 18” which, said Erickson, means it is an 18-inch diameter stove of series six. ”Oak” indicates a parlor stove that has a large door and would probably have burned coal. A “radiator” was a special design for a stove  used in public buildings; an outer case served to keep the public from accidentally touching the hot inner chamber.

As one of the 250 members of the Antique Stove Association, Erickson has a network of collectors across the country and was able to get all the missing parts to fully restore the Harvard stove, including the unique finial. Some parts came from Colorado and Oregon, and he bought the missing colored stone “jewels” from a dealer in San Diego. He had the stove in his home for many years and “spiffed it up” in late 2019 to bring to the old library for the Fivesparks exhibit.

It seems likely that the stove was purchased for the Hapgood Memorial Wing, built in 1902 with money donated by the library’s generous benefactor, former Harvard resident Warren Hapgood. Perhaps Mr. Hapgood even ordered the stove himself.

 

The Harvard Historical Society, which always welcomes new members, is committed to collecting and maintaining objects, documents, and remembrances from Harvard’s past and sharing them through public programing and open hours at the museum, and now by returning this unique stove to its rightful place.

 New members and those renewing can earmark a donation for the stove.  Membership forms can be found in the membership section of the website, harvardhistory.org. We  are hoping there will be historically-minded and generous residents who will become “Friends of the Stove” and share the $9,000 cost of its purchase with the society.  Membership involves as little as supporting the work of the society through your donation or an active role as a volunteer or researcher–it’s your choice.

This article is based on an article by Carlene Phillips that appeared in the Harvard Press.

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Your donation to help us pay for this acquisition would be very much appreciated.

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