The Reuman Heater

Dorothy and Bob Reuman built their coastal retreat house as a family project over a period of many summers. The beams were mostly recycled from old barns and even from the rocky shore of Cape Split in South Addison, Maine, where the home sits on ledge overlooking the ocean in a mossy, wind-blown forest of birch and evergreens.

The Reumans gathered precious rainwater in barrels from the roof runoff and heated with wood stoves, but had always planned one day to have a stone fireplace of some kind. They had purchased a large quantity of used granite paving blocks and hauled them to the site; the blocks sat in the woods for some years until the Reumans heard about our work and invited Albie to visit the site.

We were able to create a design that utilized their old granite pavers, an existing fireplace foundation pad and Metal-bestos chimney. By pouring a new reinforced cantilevered slab on top of their original fireplace foundation pier, we added space for a heated bench/hearth and room beneath the heater for a 3 inch thermal break. The stone slabs and lintels Albie secured from the Swenson Granite Co. in Concord, NH. We also promised that we would keep the project within the Reumans’ budget of $10,000.

We built the unit itself in only seven days as a hands-on workshop. The Reumans and the workshop men and women provided the labor while Albie orchestrated the construction. The top photo shows the beauty of the first fire on a later evening after Albie had acid washed the heater and connected heavy gauge stainless pipe to the chimney. The bottom photo gives a loft view of the “thermal” granite bench and cap slabs.