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Potbelly stoves have been serving as centerpieces for America's social activities for well over a hundred years.

The portly stove has warmed many historic places including: general stores, schoolhouses, railroad stations, frontier establishments and have been featured in paintings, Americana art and Hollywood westerns.

VINTAGE POTBELLY STOVES IN GENERAL STORES

"Come and sit for a spell," the potbelly stove beckoned. And folks did. Potbelly stoves were the hearth and heart of not only the general store, but the community as well.

Sitting by the potbelly stove, sharing a cup of coffee and the news and gossip of the town was how information was gathered and shared throughout the community.

Politics, gossip, the weather. Standard conversational topics shared and debated about, all around the potbelly stove in the general store. Imagine the stories these welcome warmers could share.
CLASSIC POTBELLY STOVES IN OLD SCHOOL HOUSES

Walking to school, sometimes for miles, like our grandfolks often told us, could be a tad chilly and wintery. Thankfully, the youngin's had a potbelly stove waiting in the schoolhouse ready to keep them warm during their studies. As they wrote about the three R's on their small chalkboards, the good ole potbelly stove blanketed the room with warmth.

At lunchtime, the teacher would often cook soups and stews on the potbelly stove providing nourishing lunches for the students. After lunch, schoolboys would split wood for the stove. If the teacher was more charm and less "marm" the boys would give an extra hearty effort in their wood duties.
VINTAGE POTBELLY STOVES IN HISTORIC RAILROAD STATIONS
Travelers found warmth and comfort sitting by the potbelly stove waiting for a train to arrive to take them to new and exciting places or for a loved one to return home. Potbelly stoves warmed railroad stations, depots, and station agent offices all around the country.

POTBELLY STOVES IN TRADITIONAL FRONTIER ESTABLISHMENTS

Antique potbelly stove in an old west Newspaper Office
 
Vintage potbelly stove in watch and clock maker's shop
Daydreaming in a bookstore by a warm potbelly stove
Antique potbelly stove warming a vintage mercantile store
AMERICAN ART FEATURING POTBELLY STOVES
Original Frank and Johnnie drawing by Thomas Benton
Frankie and Johnnie Were Sweethearts.
"Frankie went to the Dance Hall, she rang the Dance Hall bell,
She said, "Clear out, you people, I'm going to blow this man to hell: He was my man - and he done me wrong."
"Frankie shot Johnnie the first time, Frankie shot Johnnie twice; Frankie shot Johnnie the third time, and she took that gambler's life. He was her man - but he done her wrong."
Line drawing by D. Marga of a general store
A vintage potbelly stove keeping a calendar girl cozy.
Hilda
Grooving by a potbelly stove in a custom-made hippy van, Hot Rod Magazine 1974
NORMAN ROCKWELL
Norman Rockwell is about as American as apple pie, baseball, Sears Roebuck and a potbelly stove. He illustrated numerous scenes that featured a potbelly stove, with many of those illustrations gracing the cover of the Saturday Evening Post.Whether it was a couple registering to get married or a grandpa playing checkers with his grandson, Norman Rockwell knew that the potbelly stove was an important and sentimental part of American life. To learn more about Norman Rockwell, please visit the Norman Rockwell Museum,www.nrm.org
Norman Rockwell Norman Rockwell Norman Rockwell Post cover
HOLLYWOOD WESTERNS STARRING VINTAGE POTBELLY STOVES
Potbelly stoves have often appeared in Hollywood movies warming up jailhouses, saloons or simmering Tom Selleck's coffee in a Louis L'Amour remake, or his own personal bunkhouse. In this scene, from the John Ford classic, Cheyenne Autumn, Richard Widmark whispers sweet nothings to Carrorl Baker in her classroom.
 

In the 1968 movie Bandolero, starring Jimmy Stewart, Dean Martin, and Raquel Welch, Raquel "plows beautifully backwards into a potbelly stove." It's a classic scene where the potbelly stove often gets credit in the movie reviews. Below is a scene from the 1936 20th Century Fox film, "The Country Doctor".