Visit the Seneca Hale Summer Kitchen
Summer Kitchen History
The Hale Summer Kitchen was built by one of our Village’s founders, Seneca Hale, in the 1850s. It was located behind his house, which was on the west side of Forest Home Avenue (Hwy. OO). A summer kitchen was common in the 1850s. It provided a place to prepare meals, bake, and heat water for bathing and laundry. More important, it kept the heat of a wood-burning stove out of the house during summer months and reduced the possibility of a fire.
During 1995-1997, the summer kitchen was deconstructed, moved, and rebuilt in Cobb Park (just east of the intersection of S. 116th Street and W. Janesville Road). This was accomplished through the collaboration of the Hales Corners Historical Society, the Village of Hales Corners, and numerous volunteers. The relocation to Cobb Park kept the summer kitchen within the quarter-section purchased by Seneca Hale in 1840, and on land donated to the Village and dedicated to the memory of Seneca Hale and his grandson, Irwin Cobb.
The Hale Summer Kitchen has exterior dimensions of approximately 12 x 16 feet. The corners consist of large pieces of cut limestone. The body of the two-foot-thick walls are filled with ordinary uncut fieldstones of various types and sizes. The stovepipe is not vented horizontally through the wall as was usually done; instead, there is a hollow cavity running vertically through the middle of the wall up to the peak and into the brick chimney.
For cross-ventilation there is a window opening in the back wall, opposite the door. There is also a loft, possibly for storage, with a small access door in the front of the building. The ceiling (underside of the loft) was finished with lath and plaster, and the interior surfaces of the stone and mortar walls were covered with plaster and then whitewashed. Before the kitchen was moved, its floor was packed earth; however, it originally might have had a wooden floor that rotted away over time and was removed.
Summer Kitchen Hours
The kitchen will not be open in 2021 because of staffing issues.
Groups are welcome to schedule special tours at other times. There is no charge for tours, but donations are always appreciated!