We live in a 1908 Victorian bungalow (or at least that's what it's called here in Denver). Before we got the house, someone had capped off the fireplace, but we'd like to make it useable again. I'm going to have some different masons come look at it, but I'd like to educate myself a little first so that I can ask good questions.
The question is, what used to be there, and can we make it useable again? We still have the original tile surrounding the opening, which is 30"x30". From the front of the tile to the back of the firebox is about 13". About 4" back from the front, the sides step in about 2.5" on each side and then go directly back, so the back of the firebox is 24" wide. The flue is 24" wide by 5" deep, and it rises straight from the back of the firebox. Neither the firebox nor the chimney is lined.
I imagine that it at one time may have had some sort of cast iron insert, but I don't know for sure. So any ideas about what this fireplace was originally built to burn? Wood? Or coal? And given that the firebox is shallow and so is the chimney, is it something that we can make safe in order to use? Ideally, we'd prefer a wood burning fireplace, but also realize that we may have to instead do some sort of replica, gas-burning insert.
Thanks for the help.