Bakeovens in the Goschenhoppen Region

February 15, 2018

Robert Wood

The February meeting of the Goschenhoppen Historians will feature a presentation by local historian Bob Wood: Bakeovens In Germanic Southeastern Pennsylvania In the 18th and 19th Centuries.  During that period, few homes in the upper Perkiomen Valley – the Goschenhoppen region – would have been without a bakeoven, either as a stand-alone building close to the home’s kitchen, or attached directly to an exterior wall of the house.  Even after the proliferation of large, cast iron, cook stoves replaced hearth cooking many local families continued to use their bakeovens well into the 20th century.  John Baer’s ubiquitous Agricultural Almanac, in 1871, noted that, “A good brick oven for baking bread, pies, and cakes is worth all the ranges and cook stoves that one could store in the kitchen.  In such an oven everything will be baked just right, above and below through and through.”

Mr. Wood has traced the evolution and use of the Germanic influenced, beehive oven design from its arrival with early settlers in the region to the early 20th century.  Currently, a number of history based, local organizations, including the Goschenhoppen Historians, continue the tradition of bakeoven use at festivals and special events.  The bread and other delicacies produced are always much sought after, often accompanied by nostalgic memories of “Grandma’s” bread, still warm from the oven, loaded with apple butter, on cool fall mornings.

Mr. Wood’s well-illustrated presentation will take place at 7:30 PM on Thursday, February 15, 2018 at Red Men’s Hall, the Goschenhoppen Historians headquarters, located at 116 Gravel Pike (Route 29), Green Lane, PA. The public is welcome to attend and refreshments will be served during an informal get-together at the conclusion of Mr. Wood’s talk. More information can be obtained at 215-234-4119.