What is this brick construction in my yard?
October 17, 2011 3:21 PM   Subscribe

What is this brick structure in my yard?

See photos here.
This structure is on my patio adjacent to the house.
It is made of the same brick as the support pillars of the main house and seems to be weathered about the same.

When we bought the house, the top was covered in different colored, thin brick tiles set on top of a chicken wire mesh laid over in concrete. They were almost certainly a later addition. You can see them in some of the photos.

Removing the brick tiles revealed the "basin" on the right hand side and the hole on the left.
The basin appears to be solid concrete, with no holes (drainage or otherwise).
The door on the left is thin steel. There are no visible openings between the left and right sides. The left side has a wooden floor that is not fastened down and seems to be resting on more bricks.

The "ledge" on the top is made out of the same brick as the rest of the structure, but detached during the removal of the tile.

I'd like to know what it may have been and if it can be restored to its previous function or if I should just continue with demolition.
posted by madajb to Home & Garden (18 answers total)
Maybe some kind of outdoor oven or grill? We just stayed at a vacation rental in Greece that had a remarkably similar looking structure that was a grill with an oven right beside.
posted by kingbenny at 3:25 PM on October 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

Coal chute?
posted by hot soup girl at 3:26 PM on October 17, 2011

It looks a lot like a former barbecue that was in the backyard of a house my family moved into when I was a kid, so my guess would be something like that, possibly in combo with an oven. It actually looks like the project was started and then abandoned partway through (which, considering the proximity to the roof eave probably wasn't a bad thing).
posted by LionIndex at 3:27 PM on October 17, 2011

Backyard incinerator from the days where folks burned their trash would be my guess.
posted by iamabot at 3:31 PM on October 17, 2011 [2 favorites]

It looks like an outdoor smoker. Normally you'd put wood in the thing to the left and put your porky goodness in the area to the right.

However I could be wrong because there's not an obvious method for the smoke to get from the left chamber to the right.
posted by bitdamaged at 3:34 PM on October 17, 2011

Yeah looks like a backyard grill and smoker. There was a similiar looking on at my grandparents cottage that they used all the time.
posted by lilkeith07 at 3:37 PM on October 17, 2011

Looks like a wash-house boiler and tub for laundry. The copper would go on the left, with a fire lit under it.
posted by scruss at 3:48 PM on October 17, 2011

Any plumbing underneath the wood on the side with the door?

I think likely barbeque/sink combo or something similar. You can get a new insert for it if you like where it is.
posted by davey_darling at 3:56 PM on October 17, 2011

Response by poster: BBQ/grill has been suggested.

Thing is, though, that there is no place for the coals to go, nor is there any way to control the airflow in the concrete basin, so I'm not sure how that'd work.

There are also no scorch marks on the concrete or on the brick.
posted by madajb at 4:34 PM on October 17, 2011

Response by poster: Any plumbing underneath the wood on the side with the door?

No, just some bricks the wood is resting on.

Looks like a wash-house boiler and tub for laundry. The copper would go on the left, with a fire lit under it.

Not sure how that would work, care to elaborate?
posted by madajb at 4:35 PM on October 17, 2011

outdoor grill. complete one would have a crank operated grill to raise and lower (make your own). other side is to store fuel.
posted by pianomover at 4:53 PM on October 17, 2011

Maybe it was used to store coal and/or firewood?
posted by littlesq at 4:55 PM on October 17, 2011

Knowing the year your house was built might help.

If it's early 20th century I'd go with laundry boiler or garbage incinerator. If it's post-Depression I'd lean more towards a grill or smoker of some sort.
posted by TooFewShoes at 5:03 PM on October 17, 2011

Response by poster: House was built around 1967.
Bricks on the exterior of the structure look to be about the same age as the ones on the house.
posted by madajb at 5:12 PM on October 17, 2011

Okay, not a laundry boiler. 1967 is about 67 years too late.
posted by scruss at 6:38 PM on October 17, 2011

Barbeque/smoker, definitely. The DIY magazines show one of these projects just about every spring as a matter of course, which is pretty much my closest contact to them.
posted by dhartung at 10:36 PM on October 17, 2011

I think dhartung's on to something with the left being a smoker (with a removable metal roof that had long since been chucked). But the right side doesn't look especially great for being a grill, with the airflow problems as you said.

Unless, the basin was only there to provide a space for keeping a portable hibachi grill. These were kind of the rage in the 60s/70s, and as the links says, were portable for taking into the kitchen. They've fallen out of favor, probably because they look so small compared to your cheap home center grills, and more so because they've been linked to carbon monoxide deaths when people actually do bring them inside and shut the doors.

Also, I feel like the left could have been a charcoal storage area meant to look like a smoker. I can imagine a wooden top to it being used as outdoor counter space, rotting away, and then a previous owner covering the whole thing up to keep the basin from filling with water.
posted by hanoixan at 11:01 PM on October 17, 2011

Response by poster: Well, it seems like the consensus answers is a BBQ, though I'm still unclear on how that would work.

I'll take it apart slowly and see if any more clues emerge.

Thanks all.
posted by madajb at 9:51 PM on October 18, 2011

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