29 August 2016

Does Your Historic House Hold Family Secrets?

Renovation Finds
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http://www.houzz.com/photos/4715404/Renovation-Finds [accessed 082916]

Does Your Historic House Hold Family Secrets?

Late last year we blogged about Though not common -- rare documentary treasures are found in unexpected places.  I was again reminded of this when I read Who hid Patton papers in historic house 100 years ago?

ASHEVILLE -  The Patton-Parker House has stood at Charlotte and Chestnut streets since 1868, home to seven generations of one of Asheville's leading families.

Little did attorney Jim Siemens know that when he bought the landmark last fall, the house still held secrets from 100 years ago.

Last month, electrician German Martinez was running wire to a back room, working in a doorway beside a hearth. He took down a patch of drywall, revealing an older layer of plaster and wood lathing. As he cut away, he uncovered a secret compartment hidden next to the chimney. Looking inside, he caught a glimpse of color. He pulled out a tin box embossed with Caribbean scenes and a stack of leather-bound books covered with ash…

What an incredible find!  It just goes to show that some houses (or other buildings) do have “secrets” actually physically hidden on the premises.  As genealogists, our interest would be in discovered family papers, ledgers, photos and other materials to help discover more about our ancestors.

Sometimes, people find valuables tucked away.  There’s Probably Cash Hidden in Your Walls. Here’s How to Find it… walks you through the many places where treasure might be found. If You Dig Up Artifacts During a Remodel tells us that “If you gathered all the items spit out by old houses, you would soon learn that they fall into one of three categories: the monetary, the maudlin, and the just plain mundane.”

Has a renovation project led to a neat discovery? What documents have you or someone you know uncovered in a building?

What valuables have you or someone you know found hidden in a building?

Editor’s Note: If this post interested you, consider checking out Sometimes to do a House History, just as with Family History research, you need to turn to Science! (2014), Doing a House History (aka Genealogy of a House) -- FREE Guide & other resources (2014), Historic preservation maps can be invaluable to genealogists (2014), Home is Where The History Is (2012) and Who's Been Sleeping in My House? (2011)

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