Fireplaces are modern conveniences in many homes with an historical tradition of function and decor. Fireplaces in the 1950s were a common addition to the first floor of family homes. Since the first design in 1678 through contemporary times, fireplaces have been used for heating an area and enhancing the aesthetic appeal of a property.
Evolution of Heating
The 1950s marked the first decade where fireplaces functioned as both a heating device and a decorative addition to a home. Central heating was introduced in the 1950s, making the standard need for a fireplace obsolete. With the introduction of central heating, fireplaces were used less frequently--primarily during cold months.
Stacked stone was a hallmark fireplace design during the 1950s. Stacked stone included a facade of full or half portions of rock--one placed on top of the other--and solidified together by masonry mortar. The stone offered a new-age, modern look that predated the "mod" era of the early 1960s. Stacked stone made up the fireplace itself and often extended up the entire length of the wall on which the fireplace was situated.
Rancher designed homes were quite common during the 1950s. Rancher architecture placed all rooms in the home at ground level. Fireplaces in ranchers were reduced in size, as most ranchers were practical in terms of living space, with less than 1,000 square feet. Chimneys were also narrower and shorter in ranchers because of their one-level design.
Veneer and Block
Stone blocks and veneer were also used in 1950s fireplaces. While many homes incorporated real stacked stone in their fireplace design, others included a stone veneer, which gave the appearance of a stone facade. Veneer was lighter in weight and much less expensive than actual stone. Additionally, natural stone block fireplaces--or bricks--became ordinary additions in home design. Bricks ranged in a variety of colours from burnt orange to red or off-white.