Home > North Dakotiana > Suburban Archaeology: A (Detroit) Jewel in the Attic

Suburban Archaeology: A (Detroit) Jewel in the Attic

When my wife and I bought our house, we discovered a very strange thing.  There was an old stove in the attic.  This certain defies certain kinds of archaeological logic.  Traditionally we think of discard behavior as following the path of least resistance, especially for an object of new obvious symbolic or religious value.  Our house does not have a proper basement, only a root-cellar.  It may be that whoever put this old stove in the attic sought to protect it from the general dampness of the cellar not to mention the regular floods in the Red River Valley. 

This past week we had a layer of additional insulation added to our attic and the crew who did this offered to remove the heavy stove.  By Thursday afternoon we had the stove back in the kitchen where it deserved to be.

On closer inspection, the stove appears to be a late 1920s-1930s Detroit “Jewel” Stove.  These stoves were the classic model produced by the Detroit Stove Company which during its heyday in the late 19th and early 20th century was the largest producer of cast iron stoves in the world.



I am guessing that the stove was made sometime in the late 1920s.  By 1926, the Detroit Stove Company had merged with the rival Michigan Stove Company to form the Detroit-Michigan Stove Company.  Our stove still only features the Detroit Stove Company name.  The stove itself was a gas model, but the elements have been removed and lost. 

The lovely Detroit Jewel name plate cleaned up well. 

It was remarkable to discover how easy (and relatively un-manufactured) the stove was.  I managed to disassemble many parts of the stove using only a flat-head screwdriver. 

My wife and I are able to envision almost any piece of archaeology as a bar (baby-grand piano, stove, LR2 amphora, you name it).  So we promptly re-used (spolia!) the stove as a bar/cabinet. To do this we used magnets to add some funky lights (no damage to the actual stove itself).  Next spring we will give it a new paint job.

Categories: North Dakotiana
  1. Kostis Kourelis
    November 24, 2008 at 2:54 pm

    I absolutely LOVE it. Last Spring, I rescued a 1920s safe from storage in South Carolina to Connecticut. It once belonged to my aunt’s husband, Greek immigrant from Peloponnese. The safe was used in a candy factory he opened in Columbia, SC in the 1920s. Transporting it became an odyssey, but it’s now safe (but un-cracked) in our garage.

  2. November 30, 2008 at 11:23 pm


  3. rev barky
    December 12, 2008 at 10:02 pm

    Hi, I had an old A-B that was very much like yours in my basement and wanted so much to restore it but it was so rusty that I ended up selling in pieces to a guy for $5 in a garage sale. i probably should have kept it I guess. Oh well.

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