151. Halfway House Smokehouse & Farm Cellar

Photograph of Smokehouse
All of the early settlers needed to grow their own food in order to survive. But without proper food preservation, the food they spent so much time and effort growing would be lost or even worse, make a person deathly ill. Most farms had a smokehouse—a masonry structure similar to this one, where a fire could be built on the dirt floor and kept smoldering for up to two weeks. The smoke would slowly cook the meat and infuse it with flavor. This smokehouse came from Max Gartner’s farm in south Naperville, where it had been in use for a hundred years. The walls are double thick brick, which support a limestone slab ceiling most likely hauled from one of the local quarries. Early farm families grew most of their own fruits and vegetables. Cellars, like the one on the northwest side of the Halfway House, were the ideal place to store the harvested food, along with dairy products and meat (once it had been preserved). The underground location provided insulation, keeping food cool in summer and preventing it from freezing in the winter. Most food preservation was left to the farm wife, who might have measured her success by how crunchy the carrots were in March.