Enslaved cooks and laundresses prepared meals and washed delicates for the Collins family in the Kitchen/Laundry (c. 1808). Food preparation and ironing were labor intensive, hot, and at times dangerous work.
Somerset Place has an unusually large number of domestic dependencies or household service buildings. These highly specialized structures functioned solely for the purpose of supplying goods and services to the Collins family. There were approximately 25 enslaved house servants on this plantation working in and around these buildings seven days per week.
The kitchen/laundry is believed to be the oldest building still standing at Somerset Place. This structure was completed within the first decade of the 19th century. Enslaved women worked within this building as cooks and laundresses, and the Collins and their guests were the only people to benefit from this work. In the laundry, enslaved sisters Annette Baum and Rebecca Hortin washed delicates, baby clothes, and other small items. Annette and Rebecca also mended clothing and ironed all items before they were sent back into the Collins Family Home or the Colony House. In the Kitchen, enslaved cooks Lovie Cabarrus Harvey and Grace Bennett cooked meals on the open hearth over hot coals directly in front of the roaring fire. These meals were sometimes simple, if the Collins family did not have guests, but more often they were elaborate affairs, sometimes including up to eight courses to be served in the dining room for the Collinses and their guests. Grace and Lovie often worked longer and more varied hours than most of the other enslaved people on the plantation, and they were always at the beck and call of Josiah and Mary. The kitchen/laundry building was an extremely hot building to work in all year long.