Tuesday, January 3, 2012

White House Wood Stoves

It is commonly remembered that Jimmy Carter installed solar panels on the White House roof in 1979, but what many people don’t know is that the 39th president was also a big fan of wood heat.  According to a 1980 article in the Telegraph, he, his wife Rosalynn and his aides burned about 10 cords in White House fireplaces and stoves during the winter season.  

Although Carter wasn’t the only president to burn significant quantities of wood to stay warm through the DC winter – Nixon and his staff allegedly once went through 50 cords! – he was eager to campaign for the fuel source, and even proposed a tax credit for the purchase of wood stoves.  During a speech in May 1979, Carter was reported as saying:   

“I grew up with wood-burning stoves and open fireplaces, but the new designs of stoves are absolutely remarkable. They burn not only wood, but the gases from the wood. They are highly efficient, have automatic thermostats, and two or three oak logs or hardwood logs will last for as long as 8 or 10 hours.”

Carter was so enamored with wood stoves that he had multiple ones installed in the White House and Camp David during his presidency.  In 1979, the Chicago Sometimes reported he ordered six stoves from Vermont Castings, Inc. at the behest of Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy.  Later, he was gifted even more stoves (fireplaces inserts) from companies eager to promote their products.  Carter accepted the stoves on one condition, that they did not turn it into a selling point.  

One of these White House stoves may have been donated from the Buck Stove Cooperation from North Carolina, which recently celebrated its 40th birthday.  Carol Buckner, founder of the company, claims to have had one of his famous Buck Stoves installed there in 1979.  Carter may have also used a Schrader Wood Stove Stove, according to White House records.  

Unlike the solar panels Carter installed (dismantled by Reagan and acquired by Unity College in Maine in 1991), whatever became of these White House stoves is unknown.  Rumor has it that Reagan may have got rid of the stoves too.

The Alliance for Green Heat urges Presidents to install at least one pellet stove at Camp David in Maryland.   

If anyone has any information on these or other White House Stoves, please let us know!  Feel free to email us if there's anything you want to share: info@forgreenheat.org.  The Alliance is very interested in learning more about them and locating them.  



  1. In case anyone is curious, wiki-answers reports that 13th President Millard Fillmore had the first cook stove installed in the White House. He allegedly had to teach the cook, who had never seen one before, how to use it.


  2. Carter accepted the stoves on one condition, that they did not turn it into a selling point. wood heaters