Rundlet-May House

Kitchen Intro

The Rundlets installed a Rumford kitchen, the latest in cooking technology, in their new mansion on Middle Street. Born Benjamin Thompson in North Woburn, Massachusetts, Count Rumford (1753-1814) moved to England during the American Revolution and while in various positions in Europe, he did extensive thermodynamic experiments that revolutionized eighteenth and nineteenth-century kitchen technology. Later generations of the family updated the kitchen with a modern sink and General Electric range (at left in the photo below), but kept the original Rumford kitchen intact.


A much-loved copy of local cook and author Maria Parloa’s The Appledore Cook Book rests on the kitchen table in front of the Rumford Roaster; the book had several printings due to its popularity. Parloa had worked as a pastry cook at the Appledore House Hotel on Appledore Island, at the Isle of Shoals for many years. She was also one of the original founders of the Boston Cooking School in 1879. In the cookbook are recipes for everything imaginable to the nineteenth century palette, including dandelion and elderberry wine. Cooking brought much pleasure to the Rundlet and May household who benefited from such an elaborate kitchen facility; a favorite family recipe for Dundee marmalade still remains on a handwritten note inserted into the pages of the cookbook. The book was still in the kitchen when the house was acquired by Historic New England in 1973.