97 Orchard Streetís apartments originally had working fireplaces in the kitchens and parlors. By the late 1880s, the parlor fireplaces were sealed.
Why would the tenants do away with their fireplaces?
We know that each family had a coal stove in their kitchen, which they used for cooking, heating irons, and boiling water for washing. The stove provided more than enough heat, making the fireplace an unnecessary source of drafts in the winter months.
In addition, since many of the fireplaces were sealed almost immediately after the building was constructed, the builder may have intended them only as decorative features. The idea of every home having a hearth around which the family could gather was a popular notion of the time period.
Were gas or oil heat ever added to the building?