George Washington and Batsto Bog Iron

Firebacks served the practical (and valuable) purpose of protecting the bricks lining a fireplace from heat damage. The firebacks at Mount Vernon, emblazoned with George Washington’s crest and monogram, additionally served as a tangible reminder that he was master of this mansion and the profitable estate on which it stood. Washington custom ordered the “4 Chimney Backs & 8 side Plates or Jambs” in June and August of 1787 through Batsto Furnace’s Philadelphia agent, Charles Pettit (1736-1806). The finished products arrived at Mount Vernon in late November. Two of the four sets still remain in place – in the West Parlor and the Washington Bedchamber.

Text and photos courtesy of “George Washington’s Mount Vernon” and Janice Dispoto