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Late one evening over the holidays, I received a call from a nice woman from Massachusetts who had read about us in Yankee Magazine. She was enamored with the concept of heating her small cottage with a Russian fireplace. It would be the heart of her small 800 square foot rustic retreat in the Berkshires. It was a pleasant conversation, and a wonderful surprise to hear about the write-up. In the mail the next day, we received a copy of the Jan/Feb 2011 issue, compliments of the managing editor.

Inside we found a short piece about the article, What’s So Hot About a Russian Fireplace which was featured in Yankee Magazine back in 1978. A story that, three decades ago, mentioned our very own Albie Barden, and his work designing and building these remarkable sources of heat throughout the world.

In a brief paragraph, Russian fireplaces are described by their highly efficient combustion, and traditional design concept that Albie, Cheryl and Scott have spent their lives studying and sharing with others. I especially enjoyed the mention of a Finnish immigrant living in Maine back in the 40’s who built his Finnish fireplace with fieldstone collected from his own land, a technique Albie recommends to many of his clients who have access to such a valuable natural resource. Albie met this man, Sam Jaakkola and saw two of Sam’s stone masonry heaters. Albie commented on Sam’s heaters in his very first Masonry Stove Guild Newsletter, dated March 2, 1978. Both Sam Jaakkola and Basilio Lepushenko were extremely helpful to Albie in getting his start in masonry heaters.

It was a timely article that, despite the busyness of holidays, made me stop and think. During a time of year that revolves so much around change – the change of season, the shorter days and colder nights, the New Year, a time when we feel the pressure to change even ourselves, declaring resolutions to live better, and be better “ it’s certainly nice to sit back, slow down and appreciate the steadfast traditions our unique cultures and families have held true. For us, it’s as simple as enjoying the gentle sound of a crackling fire, the mesmerizing dance of its flames, the woodsy aroma, and the gentle radiant warmth of the masonry heaters that envelopes us with a sense of serenity, and comfort, and the feeling of being home.

All of us here at Maine Wood Heat Co. hope you and your families are together and keeping warm this season, and wish you all a joyful and prosperous New Year.

Join the discussion 10 Comments

  • patrick zgrodnik says:

    send a catalog and a price list please. p.o. box 799 granby, ma 01033-0799

    • amyclark says:

      Hi Patrick,

      Thanks for your interest in our masonry heater products and services. I’d be happy to send you a catalog and our price lists. I’ll drop them in the mail this morning!

      Thanks again, Patrick. I’ll look forward to hearing back from you.



  • susan spinney says:

    we are building new and as green as possible, would you send any info you have, including mason who might be in my, sort of , area

    thanks, susan

    • amyclark says:

      Hi Susan,

      I’d be happy to send you more information. I’ll put a packet together this afternoon, and will email it along to you. Where are you located, Susan? Our masons travel all over the country designing and building heaters, but if you’d like to work with someone locally, I can check with my team to see if they know of a qualified mason in your area.

      Thanks for your interest. I’ll send you more information shortly.



  • Janet Heath says:

    Can the heaters be added to an already built house? We have a non-vent gas log in an area that looks like a fireplace – space for, but no flue or chimney in place. How difficult is it to work in an already completed attic space?

    Could you please send a catalog to 674 Plantation Point Road, Woodbine, Georgia 31569 and to Mary Heath, 2221 Sarvisberry Drive, Monteagle, Tennessee. Thanks

    • Albie Barden says:

      Dear Janet,

      We do a few retrofit units into existing homes every year. Sometimes we remove or adapt to an existing fireplace, saving part of the foundation and the chimney. Sometimes we start from scratch. There is always carpentry framing and finish work to be done. Working in a finished attic is little different than working in a house under construction. Finished floors, etc. all have to protected with plastic and thin plywood duct taped together.

      I hope this information is helpful, Janet. We’ll send more information in the mail to you and Mary this week.

      Thanks for your interest. We hope to have the opportunity to work with you.


      Albie Barden

  • susan terry says:

    please send catalog, prices and any pertainent stats

    Thank you

  • Nancy S. Mahoney says:

    Hi. I read about you in an old Mother Earth magazine published on the web in association with Fred Fitzpatrick of Groton, MA. I’ve got an old house, part maybe 1850’s. It had 2 fireplaces. One was converted to vent the now gas fired steam boiler, also old.. The other has been plastered over and the chimney capped. I’m in W. Nyack, NY and would be interested in getting a price on a Russian fireplace. I don’t know if the plastered over fireplace could be used somehow. I’m insulating and weather sealing as much as possible. Other locations might be on the south-side of the house that features a narrow porch all along that side. This porch is exposed underneath though (built up on block).
    The only idea I have on cost is a government website and the Mother Earth article. Any info/availability would be appreciated. Thanks.

    • amyclark says:

      Hi Nancy,

      I’m glad you found us. I went ahead and emailed you pricing directly but I’d be happy to connect you with one of our masons to discuss your options in terms of retrofitting, or replacing your existing fireplace(s). If you have photos or existing plans, they may help us better envision your space and the size/scope of your project. Just give us a call here at our office when you get a minute and we can discuss next steps (207) 696-5442.

      Thanks, Nancy. We hope to hear from you soon!

      Warm Regards,

      Amy Clark

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