What is a Summer Kitchen?

A hundred and fifty years ago, women didn’t rely on stores like they do today for their food, clothing or home decor. Instead, women grew their own food in gardens and orchards, foraged for it in the woods, or raised animals. They sewed their own clothes and stitched their own home décor by the light of the fire.

Women and young girls often used a Summer Kitchen, which was a small building that was usually separate from their main house, to cook meals, preserve the harvest and to craft their own yarn, fabrics, clothing and home goods.

A Summer Kitchen was a place of necessity and productivity in the home. The Summer Kitchen served as a central part of a female’s life for almost 100 years and gave her a place to produce physical products to use in her home or sell to others.

As rural Americans began to move to the suburbs the need for these separate kitchens fell out of favor and modern kitchens started to develop.

Even though Summer Kitchens are no longer used for the same purposes, today, one can still drive around central Pennsylvania and find Summer Kitchens on farms.