When George Boyd first constructed the 110 ½ E. Leigh Street house in 1883, the kitchen was a separate building as was customary at the time. As a safety precaution and for comfort, an out-building kitchen ensured that heat, fire, and smoke remained out of the main house. Dr. Robert Jones, the second owner of the property, incorporated the kitchen into the house in 1889.
While the dining room served as a formal space for holidays, Sunday dinners, and visitors, the Walkers took most of their family meals here. In the oral histories conducted by the National Park Service in the late 1970s, Mrs. Walker’s grandchildren recalled hotdogs and sauerkraut as one of their favorite informal meals served around the kitchen table.
With much of her time occupied by various professional and volunteer leadership commitments, Mrs. Walker’s domestic influence was limited. The Walker’s adopted daughter, “Polly” Payne, served as the family’s paid nanny, cook, laundress, and housekeeper. The kitchen was her domain. The Walker grandchildren testified that Polly’s fried chicken, seasoned greens, and chitterlings were unrivaled in their perfection. Mrs. Payne prepared these feasts using a massive iron stove capable of burning coal, wood, or gas fuels.