The Kitchen

8 E Washington St Lexington

Virginia Military Institute Museums & Archives
Written By Virginia Military Institute Museums & Archives

Visit the museums of the Virginia Military Institute, the oldest state-supported military college in the United States: The VMI Museum, Virginia Museum of the Civil War, Stonewall Jackson House, Marshall Museum and Library, Adams Center for Military History, and VMI Archives.

"Yesterday I went into the kitchen and sealed some jars of tomatoes, and Hetty has put up many jars besides, of plums and other fruits, so that we shall be well supplied this winter." - Letter from Jackson in "Memoirs" by Mary Anna Jackson

In 1802, Cornelius Dorman’s insurance policy mentioned a separate kitchen structure located twenty-one feet north of the house, which is in keeping with the tradition of detached kitchens. However, by 1845, the insurance policy mentions the house’s stone structure, which enclosed the old kitchen to the house. Whether attached or detached, the kitchen was the center for all meal preparation, food preservation, washing dishes, and some food storage. For these reasons, a large, sturdy kitchen table and a cooking stove were very important items in the room.

In the Jackson House kitchen, there are two kitchen tables: one large, primarily for the cook to use, and one smaller, for others to sit around. This detail is relevant for the slaves who lived and worked in the Jackson House because the kitchen doubled as their gathering place in the home. While the cook, a slave named Amy, worked at the large table, the other four slaves, Hetty, Cyrus, George, and Emma, could sit around the smaller table in the evenings. In total, Jackson owned six slaves. However, Albert, the first slave Jackson purchased, did not live or work in the Jackson House because he was hired out.

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