Monday, January 14, 2019

Federal-era kitchen apparatus in Gadsby's Indian Queen Hotel, Baltimore

By 1815, the Indian Queen Hotel in Baltimore had state-of-the-art kitchen equipment: a "patent oven" (metal wall oven), "steam for boiling" (steam kitchens), "stoves set in brick" (stew stoves), smoke jacks to turn meat on spits and a coffee roaster.

The quotes are from a journal entry by Harriott Horry from Charleston about her 1815 visit. While Horry's quote has been used by a few historians and writers, they only list the large coffee roaster and the smoke jack with spits.  Those are the least interesting items, so I have to assume they did not understand "patent oven," "steam for boiling" and "stoves set in brick"...few do.  Most food historians concentrate on brick bake ovens and the hearth but various Federal apparatus are fascinating.

John Gadsby (1766-1844) is now known for Gadsby's Tavern Museum in Alexandria, VA, but he managed several hotels during his lifetime - the City Hotel in Alexandria (1796-1808), now Gadsby's museum; the Indian Queen Hotel (1808-1819) in Baltimore, MD; and two in Washington, D.C. - the Franklin Hotel and the National.  He retired to the Decatur House, across from the White House.

Indian Queen Hotel, on the corner of Hanover and Baltimore (Market) Streets, Baltimore, was built before 1782. William Evans owned it from 1796 until his death in 1807 when it was bought by his son-in-law. Evans knew Jefferson and was the go-between to hire James Hemings to be White House chef (past post HERE). Gadsby leased it from 1808 until 1819, when financially troubled, he was forced to sell his lease to David Barnum; then followed a series of managers until the hotel was demolished, sometime after 1832.

In 1809 “We alighted at the Indian Queen in Market street, kept by John Gadsby in a style exceeding anything that I recollect to have seen in Europe or America. This inn is so capacious that it accommodates two hundred lodgers, and has two splendid billiard-rooms, large stables and many other appendages. The numerous bed-chambers have all bells, and the servants are more attentive than in any public or private house I ever knew.”  [Recollections of Samuel Breck. London: 1877]

Harriott (Pinckney) Horry (1748-1830), a wealthy widow traveled from her plantation near Charleston, SC, in 1815 (when she was 67) and kept a journal of the trip.  She stayed in the Indian Queen in Baltimore and described the kitchen.

The very modern equipment for the Indian Queen hotel in 1815 -

Horry's journal entries are in italics.  All of the kitchen apparatus images are just examples, since we don't know which specific types Gadsby bought while he leased the Indian Queen from 1808-1819. Following the entries and period images are links to my blog posts with more information on steam kitchens, stew stoves, metal wall ovens, spits & jacks, and mangles.

In the kitchen all the boiling is done by Steam  [Slark steam kitchen, 1791 - Vice President Aaron Burr and the Prince Regent's Royal Palace at Brighton had a Slark steam kitchen]

and the roasting at large open fire places and the spits turned by smoke Jacks.  [the faint outline of the smoke jack and gear box is actually inside the chimney, with a rod extending through the wall to connect to the outer bar and wheels, 1855]

[Smoke Jack within the chimney, 1826]

The Coffee roaster which is a very large cylinder that I imagine will hold 20 or 30 [?] of Coffee is also turn’d by the Smoke Jack.   [coffee roaster 1809]

a large patent oven  [Bouis oven, Baltimore 1812]

and a number of stoves set in brick work are also in the kitchen [stew stove and Reip patent oven, at "Hampton" built 1790, near Baltimore]

This Indian Queen kept by Gadsby is a very large establishment. I recon’d between 70 & 80 plates laid at the common Table (which they said was not sufficient) besides many private tables handsomely served, and every thing calculated for convenience on a large scale.

In the wash house hot and cold water is brought in pipes over every tub which are square & fixd. The Water is let off by spigets and carried out thro’ drains. [wash room with spigots above sinks]

in the Ironing room is a large Stove in the center the top of which is sloping like a little roof on which the Irons are heated   [Shaker flat iron heating stove]

and the Mangle has a small chain instead of leather or rope which crosses over a small Iron wheel on the top.

In the drying room is another large stove with a large tin case fix’d on the top which is made so hot by the stove that it also throws out great heat. A very large horse for drying [clothes horse] surrounds the stove and a number of ropes from one side to the other of the room are raised up and down by pullies on which the sheets &c. are hung to harden after they are Iron’d for They are dried on the tops of the houses.  [This image is not what is described but similar and has a tall Shaker flat iron drying stove; clothes lines are in upper right corner]

...paying Gadsby’s bill (the enormous one of $50 for three days)...

Links to past posts on cooking apparatus
Steam Kitchens - HERE
Stew Stoves - HERE
Patent metal ovens (Rumford, Reip) - HERE
Octagon cast iron oven - HERE
Roasting spits and jacks (smoke jack and others) - HERE
Mangles - HERE
Indian Queen owner William Evans' part in James Hemings turns down Thomas Jefferson to be White House chef 1801 HERE

My past writings on this Federal equipment

“A Federal-era Kitchen: Hampton’s Stew Stove, Iron Oven, and Hearth” in Food and Material Culture : proceedings of the Oxford Symposium on Food and Cookery 2013 HERE

“Early Steam Kitchens” in Petit Propos Culinaires PPC101. London: 2014 p15-33

Maryland Food History blog posts HERE

Maryland museums with open hearth cooking demonstrations HERE


Indian Queen hotel image from Gadsby Tavern Museum HERE

Harriott Pinckney Horry, 1815 Journal, 8 June 1815, in The Papers of Eliza Lucas Pinckney and Harriott Pinckney Horry Digital Edition, ed. Constance Schulz. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, Rotunda, 2012. (accessed 2019-01-05).
©2019 Patricia Bixler Reber
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