Gross & Sassman Heater

The Gross & Sassman Heater

Susan Gross dreamed for ten years of owning and building a Russian Fireplace. When she and her husband, Richard Sassaman, moved to Bar Harbor, Maine, they bought a postage stamp lot next to Richard’s sister overlooking the mountains of Acadia National Park.

Susan organized the construction of their owner-built, two room, two story cottage, which they lived in without plumbing or a chimney for five years. Eventually, as Susan made plans to create a family, they doubled the size of the house, leaving space and plans for a Russian Fireplace with a bakeoven as their primary heat source.

Albie and a friend, Rich Raymond, moved in with Susan, Richard and Richard’s sister, Barbara (“Sass”) in February, installed a wet-saw for the cuts and a woodstove to thaw bricks and sand and provide heat. Susan cooked, mixed mortar, carried brick and promised never to get angry while Albie and Rich laid up the foundation, heater and chimney. Rich scaled the icy roof to build staging and a plastic heated shack so the arch-capped chimney could be completed.

Susan now cooks or bakes something for nearly every meal in the oven, which is heated by the flame from the primary firebox below. The oven is 18″ wide and five feet deep and burns very clean.

The fire can be viewed through the oven or the loading door. Susan, a self-employed artist, asked for the basket weave brickwork on the heater. Richard, a writer, made us locally famous with a piece in the Bar Harbor Times.