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Fireplace, the hearth of the home

By CAROL SONES SHETLER - Reporter | Oct 12, 2020

Robin Powers is happy with the choice of simulated creek stone applied to the exterior chimney of her fireplace. The homeowner notes a savings of nearly a half in heating costs. CAROL SHETLER/The Luminary

If ever there was a question of the quality of life of city verses country, Robin Powers would be the one to ask. She grew up in Queens, moved to the shore in New Jersey, before coming to rural Pennsylvania.

“I’d often visited a friend here when a next door property came up for auction. She encouraged me to buy it as I had long tired of the congestion and traffic back in Jersey.”

Robin said she was here that cold spring day fifteen years ago when the house was put up for bid. “I’d been at the sale but had taken my six-month-old daughter back to my friend’s house, and when my friend returned from the sale, I learned it had not sold. Long story short, my husband and I bought the house which had a large beautiful but non operating fireplace.

After five years my husband passed and the fireplace continued to have a rusted damper plus water leaked in around it,” Robin said.

Meanwhile, time was spent with her young daughter and traveling to her work as a water control specialist. Now Robin works from home certifying DEP compliance for public places such a modular home parks.

Terry Powers in front of the fireplace restored to working order last year. The inviting room is a place where the four-person household enjoys gathering around the crackling fire. CAROL SHETLER/The Luminary

Eventually she wed Tennessee native Terry Powers and last year the two took on redoing the fireplace hiring Rodney Phillips, an acquaintance as contractor. “The white glazed brick was meant to be used inside, however was put on the outside chimney where weather popped the glaze. We replaced it with simulated creek stone and had a cap put on the chimney top.” Terry said.

Noted also was that three chambers were inside the fireplace with the two outer spaces serving no purpose except filling with rain water. The new cap successfully solved the problem. The damaged wall was fixed and now the room is complete.

Terry said that, “Because this is a large space including dining and living room, we have a ceiling fan which returns the rising heat back down to the floor.”

Robin noted last winters savings at about half of their electric heat costs. She is happy with the results saying that, “Not only is there physical comfort, but emotional warmth as well. She recounted the Irish saying, ‘Warm Hearth, Warm Heart,’ and through the centuries the hearth has been the heart of the home.”

As for the gal from Queens, her husband says, “She got over it.” As the mother of a 15-year-old and caretaker of her mother, she also tends a dozen laying chickens, gardens, stacks wood while doing her favorite thing . . . cooking. The couple walks two and a half miles each morning and practices yoga.

Terry is Grand Master of Muncy Lodge #299, Free and Accepted Masons.