Part of the fun of having a historic home is having useless, yet beautiful items in key places in the home. Take for example, our nonfunctional coal-burning fireplace and chimney. When we bought the house, the chimney was vented with an opening at the top. This was odd, because my guess is that it's been at least 40 years since anyone used the coal burning stove for burning coal (or anything, for that matter).
When we replaced the roof we took the chimney down to the roof level and sealed it off. Given all the brick & chimney damage we could have had in January 2010 earthquake, this was probably a wise move. Plus, in October of the previous year, we had real live spooky spiders rapelling down the opening and into the living room.
The nonfunctinality of the hearth isn't a big deal. We place candles in the bottom and it's a nice effect. SOME DAY a nice gas (or wood?) stove that vents out the top would be amazing. And the heat would be nice too.
In the meantime, Mrs. Strubgrass has been refinishing the mantle, which is a lovely old growth redwood under about 7 layers of garish paint. She has removed most of the turquoise paint and "faux marbling effect" and is getting close to unveiling the original splendor of the Strubgrass hearth. When it's done, we'll spend the winter huddled together under blankets marveling at its beauty.