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Modern Technology

Hermitage FurnaceThe remodeled Hermitage reflected the transformation of household technology in the 19th century that was first seen in the homes of the well-to-do. Ranlett equipped the reconstructed house with a number of comfort-producing, innovative technologies. The Hermitage had a heating furnace, running water, water closets (toilets), and a number of storage closets.

Ranlett mentions that The Hermitage had “Walker’s improved furnace,” which provided at least a partial hot-air heating system with vents in the floors of the principal rooms. The house had an advanced plumbing system for its day in which a hydraulic ram was used to lift water from Ho-Ho-Kus Brook. (In later years, the tunnel through which the water entered the house would erroneously be called part of the Underground Railroad.) Water was stored in cisterns and supplied to outlets for running water and for water closets. The sink in the rear hall is part of the house’s mid-19th century plumbing. There also was a heater in the kitchen that provided hot water for the house.

The house had numerous closets and storage rooms, including built-in storage such as the dresser in the closet off the master bedroom. The pantry has an opening into the closet by the dining room to allow transfer of food and serving dishes.

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