The sound of crackling embers and the sweet smoky smell of a masonry fireplace remind me of winter at my grandparents’ farm. The Lane Farm, on outskirts of Quincy, was built in the early 1900’s. It was the definition of southern comfort, covered porches outfitted with hanging swings, handmade rocking chairs and a basket of decade old Readers Digest magazines on the sideboard. But the home had minimal technology, limited to one TV with rabbit ears and transistor radio in the kitchen. The fireplace was the centerpiece, the gathering place and the place where the pile of presents laid in waiting. Those are my memories, probably captured on a slide carousel in someone’s attic. But I don’t think my grandchildren will have the same experience, as the flat screen TV has said “move over” to the fireplace. A true masonry fireplace is rare in a new home anymore, expensive to build and taking up valuable real estate in a technology driven family room. Even gas fireplaces are losing their lease on wall space due to changes in how we live. There is good news as one of the most popular amenities today is an outdoor fireplace. More builders are incorporating “hearth rooms” or full outdoor living environments where the fireplace becomes the focal point and the TV in the corner plays second fiddle. I just appraised a home with a majestic fireplace, appointed with rope molding and anchored by an antique mantle. The owner told me to say goodbye, he was about to remove it, install a TV there and then build a masonry fireplace on the screen porch. Even in Florida, we will always have fireplaces, but in the future, they may just not be found in the usual places. I were building a new home today, I would still want a fireplace, I would just make sure there was a 70′ space with an outlet above it.