What's Their Story? Chimney Pots
Learn the history of these architecture-accentuating heating features
Shaped like the rooks in a chess set, with tapered bodies and vented, crown-like tops, chimney pots have protruded from European rooftops for centuries. You might recall that Mary Poppins—held aloft by her umbrella—famously glided among London's antique pots.
In America, they were mainly used from the late 1800s to the early 1900s, when people burned coal to heat their homes. Mortared to the top of a masonry chimney, the terra-cotta pot was an inexpensive way to extend the stack height and increase draw, reducing the amount of soot and fumes that entered living spaces. Chimney pots were also used to accentuate the houses' architecture. Nearly every design in A.J. Downing's influential 1850 pattern book, The Architecture of Country Houses, is crowned by at least one.