Rundlet-May House

Fireplace Elegance in the Sitting Room

The carved pilasters, projecting cornice and entablature framing the fireplace in the sitting room were carved by tradesmen employed by the Rundlet family to demonstrate their understanding of classical architecture and translate it into American craft. The fireplace, was not only a central element often meant to heat a home in the nineteenth century, but it was an architectural feature to unify the room’s purpose. It was a blank canvas to a nineteenth-century carver, and those of boundless skill were able to impress their employers with their understanding of ornament and style. The fireplace in the sitting room was transformed in the 1830s when the marble was added to it, making it smaller and thus projecting heat more efficiently into the room.