Before wood stoves, oil, and gas came into use, the masonry fireplace was the only source of heat. The fireplace was used for cooking in the house and to heat the space you lived in. The early fireplaces did not provide much for heat until the 18th century. American born Benjamin Thompson (Count Rumford) was hailed as a statesman and scientist. Count Rumford did not approach the modification of the fireplace as an amateur, but as a gifted scientist. His design, the Rumford fireplace, featured a high, shallow firebox with splayed sides. This design improved smoke clearance and increased the output of radiation. This fireplace, while providing more heat, consumed less fuel than previous designs. The art of the fireplace was lost and forgotten in America when the invention of the furnace came along. It was cheaper and very efficient to heat with oil, gas or coal. Now, with our energy crisis on the rise, the art of this wonderful fireplace is making a strong comeback. There is nothing like the open-fire fireplace. The masonry fireplace will last you a lifetime. Whereas today’s open, prefab fireplaces can only handle and are rated for 35,000 BTU’s, the masonry fireplace can handle the hottest fire.