Community Oven Maintenance & Repairs The Common Workshops

Building a Beehive (Cob) Oven: The Fort’s Community Oven

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Building the Fort’s Beehive Oven
Tidings from the 18th Century (p. 204, 1993)

The fort’s community oven (beehive) has served the fort for more than two decades.  After so many years of hard service, our oven is ready for major repairs.  While we make plans to work on our oven, we thought that we might take a moment and look back at the beginnings of the museum’s famous bake oven as seen in Beth Gilgun’s work,  Tidings From the 18th Century.

Dearest Friends, …Chris was called up to the Fort at number 4 for a muster in June….  While we were there, an outside bake-oven was built so that the soldiers who are sometimes sent there will have a place to bake their bread.  It was quite a fascinating process, and it surprised us how quickly the project was completed … (p. 202).

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Construction of Fort’s Bake Oven
Tidings from the 18th Century (p. 203)

The day the oven was to be assembled, the men built a wooden frame shaped like a hunched beaver.  The frame was built from saplings split down the middle into long strips and tied together with twine (p. 202).  …

The clay used to build the oven … was mixed with water to make it workable.  [Clay and water were placed] into [a] trough.  When water was added, two men took off their shoes and stockings to mix the clay and water with their feet (p. 202).  …

[Hay was mixed in] to help bind the clay … and molded into long rectangles that were about seven inches wide, 18 inches long, and five inches high (p. 203).  …

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The first loaves of bread baked in the newly completed oven
Tidings from the 18th Century (p 205, 1993)

As the sides [of the oven] were built up the clay was molding itself around the wooden strips so that gradually the inside had a bumpy look (p. 203).

We were all surprised how quickly the oven was built but disappointed to lean that is could not be used for a bout four weeks (p. 205).

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Tidings From the 18th Century : Colonial American How-To and Living History
by Beth Gilgun
Published in 1993 by Scurlock Publishing Co., Inc.
is now in it’s 4th printing