Collector shows off how stoves have changed over the decades

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NEW ORLEANS -- From cast iron to smart ovens, the way we cook in the kitchen has changed a lot over the last decade. Stoves have gotten more reliable, ovens a lot more efficient, and, microwaves have taken on much of the burden of cooking and reheating.

A collector in the Lower Garden District has been keeping track of the changes by rescuing and restoring old stoves. She is taking in stoves that others don't know what to do with and returning them to their original shape as much as possible.

She's storing the collection at her house and plans to open it to the public -- but not yet. The collection isn't quite ready.

But, she did give us a peek at how it's coming along.

For the most part, the stoves look like what we are used to seeing in the kitchen--white or colored enamel, four burners, a door for the oven.

But one of the stoves is very different--strikingly different. It's a cast iron stove from the early 1900s, black, tall, heavy, and ornate.

"You can see there is a lot of care and attention put into the design," says Valerie, a spokesperson for the collection. "This is not just a box."

Valerie pointed out two ovens from the 1920s.

"As you can see, they are free-standing," she says as she motions towards the legs that hold up the white and green enameled stoves. "That gives you a hint as to the era."

By the time the 1950s came along, the legs had disappeared, which you can see in other stoves in the collection.

"This is a Magic Chef from the 50s," said Valeria. "You no longer have the free-standing legs. This would actually be pushed in flush with the counter."

The reason why a collection like this can exist is that older stoves were built to last. Some of the stoves in the collection were being used all the way up to the day they became part of the collection. And, Valerie says some of them would still work today.

"There is not a lot to them as far as how they work," she says. "It's not like there is a digital issue to it of any kind, of course. And, the parts last."

The owner of the collection says she will open it to the public soon.

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