The cellar, when properly constructed and cared for, is the most useful room in the house, and no dwelling is complete without one. It is economy of expense and ground-space to build it under ground, and this plan gives the best cellar whenever the site of the house permits thorough drainage. The base of the foundation-wall of the house should be laid a little below the floor-level of the cellar, and the first layer should be of broad flag-stones, so placed that the edges will project a few inches beyond the outer face of the wall. This effectually prevents rats from undermining the cement floor, which they often do when this precaution is neglected, digging away the dirt until the floor breaks and gives them access to a new depot of supplies. In burrowing downwards, they invariably keep close to the wall, and when they reach the projecting flagging, give it up and look for an easier job. To secure the cellar from freezing, the wall, above the level of the deepest frost, should be double or "hollow," the inner wall being of brick four inches thick, with an air-space of two inches between it and the outer wall, which should be of stone and twelve or fourteen inches thick. The brick wall should be stiffened by an occasional "binder" across to the stone. The hollow space may be filled with dry tan-bark or sawdust, or left simply filled with the confined air, "dead air" being the most perfect non-conductor of heat known. The windows, which should be opposite each other when possible, to secure a "draft" and more perfect ventilation, should be provided with double sash - one flush with the outer face of the wall, which may be removed in summer, and the other flush with the inner face, hung on strong hinges, so that it may easily be swung open upward and hooked there. In winter, this arrangement lets in light, but with its space of confined air, keeps out the frost. A frame covered with wire netting should take the place of the outer sash in summer, to keep out every thing but the fresh air and light. The walls should be as smooth as possible on the inner side, and neatly plastered; also the ceiling overhead. The floor should be first paved with small stones, then a coat of water-lime laid on, and over this a second coat, as level as a planed floor. There should also be double doors, one flush with each face of the wall; and a wide out-door stairway, through which vegetables, coal, etc, may be carried, is indispensable. The depth should be about eight feet.
Such a cellar may always be clean, the air pure, and the temperature Tinder complete control. It will consequently keep apples and pears two or three months longer than an ordinary cellar, prolonging the fruit season to "strawberry-time." If it extends under the whole house - the best plan when the state of the purse permits it - it may be divided into apartments, (536) with brick walls between - one for vegetables, one for fruits, one for provisions, one for the laundry, and a fifth for coal and the furnace, if one is used. In one corner of the cellar, under the kitchen, may also be the cistern, the strong cellar wall serving for its outer wall. A pump from the kitchen would supply water there for domestic uses; and a pipe with a stop-cock, leading through the wall into the cellar, would occasionally be a convenience and save labor. It is better, however, as a rule, to locate the cistern just outside the house, passing a pipe from it through the cellar wall below the deepest frost level, and thence to the kitchen. If built in the cellar, the cistern should be square, with heavy walls, plastered inside with three coats of water-lime.
All the apartments of a cellar should be easily accessible from the outside door and from the kitchen stairway. In the vegetable apartment, the bins should be made of dressed lumber, and painted, and located in the center, with a walk around each, so that the contents may easily be examined and assorted. The fruit shelves, made of slats two inches wide and placed one inch apart, should be put up with equal care and neatness, and with equal regard for convenience and easy access. Their place should be the most airy part of the cellar; the proper width is about two feet, and the distance apart about one foot, with the lowest shelf one foot from the floor. Pears will ripen nicely on the lower shelves under a cover of woolen blankets. The supports should, of course, be firm and strong. The bottom shelf should be of one board, on which to scatter fine fresh lime to the depth of an inch, changing it two or three times during the winter. A shelf, suspended firmly from the ceiling, and located where it will be easy of access from the kitchen, on which to place cakes, pies, meats, and any thing that needs to be kept cool and safe from cats and mice, is an absolute necessity. Its height prevents the articles placed on it from becoming damp, and gathering mold, as they sometimes do when placed on the cellar floor. In planning shelves for cans, crocks, casks, etc., regard should be had to economy of space by making the distance between the shelves correspond to the articles to stand on them, and it is well to so place the lower shelf that the meat barrels, etc., may be placed under it. The temperature of a cellar should never be below freezing, and if it is raised above fifty by a fire, outside air should be admitted to lower it. The best time for ventilating the cellar is at noon, taking care in hot weather not to admit so much outside air as to render it warm. A simple and excellent plan for ventilation, where the location of the kitchen chimney admits it, is to pass an ordinary stove-pipe through the floor upward beside or behind the pipe of the kitchen stove, and thence by an elbow into the chimney. The draft of the chimney will carry off all the impure air that arises in the cellar, and if too great a current is created, it may be brought under complete control by a valve at the floor.
The cellar must be frequently examined and kept perfectly sweet and clean. There is no reason why it should not be as neat as the living rooms, and as free from cobwebs, decayed fruit and vegetables, and ail other forms of filthiness. Whitewashing walls in winter will aid in giving it tidiness. 34
If the cellar is constructed above ground, the entire walls should be double, with air space between, double windows and doors being even more necessary than when under-ground. Above all, the floor should be on a level with that of the kitchen, to save the woman-killing stairs. If there are stairs, let them be broad, firm, and placed in the light if possible. Of course, every cellar should have thorough drainage. In laying a tile drain, if in the horseshoe form, place the circular side down; the narrower the channel, the swifter the current and more certain to carry off sediment.