Found in the Wall!

One of the cool things about living in an old house is the constant possibility that you might find something left behind—intentionally or not—by a previous occupant. Open up a wall and you might see century-old bank bonds or a pile of cash or gold bricks or a diamond ring or…ya know. We’ve seen the news stories. Some asshole goes a-renovatin’ and finds some shit worth more than the house itself.

Well, I’ve done a fair amount of renovating, and my house is a hidden-treasure-failure. I found a couple of plastic combs behind the wall in the downstairs bathroom. A matchbook in the attic. A business card for a hat shop in the entryway ceiling. Several mummified mice. Until recently, I think probably the coolest thing I found was half of a shutter hinge below the solarium. BFD.


You know how on the first floor of my house, there’s this amazing panel detail below all of the windows? The incredible moldings were one of the big reasons I fell so in love with my house. So beautiful! It makes me feel bad about putting furniture and stuff in any of my rooms because I always feel like nothing I own is prettier than the house itself and therefore I should just leave it empty.


One of the cool things about taking so much of the house apart and putting it back together again—which is really what the exterior restoration requires—is getting to see what’s behind my walls without tearing out the plaster and moldings on the interior. This is the backside of one of those below-the-window-panels, which I spent a while staring at and trying to figure out how to reconstruct for the new dining room window. This picture doesn’t really show much, but the craftsmanship here! The whole thing is mortise-and-tenon’d together at the corners and there are flathead screws holding things together from the inside and…I don’t know, it’s all very cool to me. In an age when strips of MDF held onto drywall with liquid nails qualifies as board-and-batten walls, I always like seeing this kind of thing.

SO ANYWAY, I was staring at this and looked down, and right there, tucked between the stud and the backside of the panel was a little piece of paper! It’s somewhere between the size of a business card and a postcard, beautifully preserved, and sitting right there waiting to be discovered!


How cool! Here’s the front of the card. Look at that building! I actually first assumed that this building stood in Kingston (we also have a Broadway and Cedar Street, and they intersect at a corner!) and immediately got sad about all the incredible buildings lost to urban renewal efforts and whatnot, but a quick google searched turned up that this was actually the Equitable Life Assurance Building in Manhattan, which I guess stood at a record-breaking height when it was finished in 1870 and was the first office building to feature passenger elevators. Like many other “fireproof” buildings built in lower Manhattan around that time, turns it out was not that fireproof and burned down in 1912. Look at that!


And on the back my eyes immediately settled on the text at the bottom, because that’s the name of the original owner of my house!* I knew from census records and stuff that he was an insurance salesman (among other things—it sounds like he was a real man-about-town and total badass), but there’s something kind of different about holding his 150 year old business card (is that what we call this?) in my hand. So fun. In case you’re curious, that $726,399.94 in 1870 translates to about $12,700,000 in 2016.

*this could be false. Almost every person who knows a lot about old houses tells me the construction of the original section at least of my house appears to be more circa 1830s, and looks like it got a couple of additions and maybe a big aesthetic overhaul in the 1860s or so. The 1905 obituary of the owner whose name appears on this card notes that he built the house “forty years ago,” which brings us to 1865, but maybe “built” refers more to a major renovation? It is, after all, an obituary in the local paper, not a real estate record. I need a time machine or somebody who’s really good at research.



Remember this view? It’s the new window installed on the missing third side of the bay window on the first floor. Great, cool.


Remember this view? It’s the opposite end of the solarium, where under some wood paneling was clear evidence of another window down at this end. The sashes are long gone and the jamb is pretty hacked up, but it’s definitely a window jamb.

When I found that hidden window, I measured it…and it seemed like just the size of the one that would have been on the third side of the bay window, where I’ve now put a window back. Which lead me to wonder…was this window moved here from the bay window when the solarium was built? I think it’s totally possible. Why throw out a perfectly good window when you’re adding more windows? Huh.


Fast-forward to solarium demo of a few weeks ago, and after removing all the brick and mortar nogging…look there, below the window jamb! Doesn’t that kind of look like the backside of the panel detail I was talking about earlier? That’s neither siding nor sheathing, so I got all excited.


Because don’t forget, the bay window has that detail on the inside and the outside.


It didn’t take me long to head to the exterior and rip off the vinyl on this wall. I was expecting to see a big sheet of plywood where the window used to be, but I actually found…wood clapboard? Huh! I guess this window was removed longer ago than I thought.

Said it before and I’ll say it forever…check that mold out. THAT IS WHAT IS UNDER VINYL SIDING. Moisture and rot and yuck yuck yuck that is terrible for your house. Luckily the clapboard actually wasn’t rotted here, but I’m sure in a few years or so you’d start to see that. Which of course can then affect sheathing, and framing, and the backside of your walls, and vinyl siding ought to be illegal.


Anyway. Then I took the clapboard off board-by-board, like I do, and that’s when I found the plywood. OK. Starting to make some sense.


AND THEN UNDER THE PLYWOOD LOOK LOOK LOOK! That right there is the same panel detail found on the other two sides of the bay window that I’m restoring, in really pretty great condition from being covered up all these years. SO EXCITING. Hopefully I can just move the entire thing back to its rightful position under that new window, and that will be one big step closer to making that once-beautiful bay window whole again. That thing is trimmed out with a lot of fancy moldings, some of which will probably still need to be replicated, but having this one thing taken care of by the house is just so cool, at least to me. I love those super rare times when things might actually be easier than you imagined they’d be.


About Daniel Kanter

Hi, I'm Daniel, and I love houses! I'm a serial renovator, DIY-er, and dog-cuddler based in Kingston, New York. Follow along as I bring my 1865 Greek Revival back to life and tackle my 30s to varying degrees of success. Welcome!

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  1. 8.18.16
    Mariane said:

    That card is so cool, you need to find a frame that is glass on both side so you can still see the back of the card and flip the frame once in a while!! Also, I really enjoy your enthusiasm for all things related to your house, your love for that beauty of a house and how you take care of ”her” is really touching, it just makes me like you so much and we have never met!! Keep up the good work Daniel!

  2. 8.18.16
    Mom said:

    Ditto to every thing Mariane said. Love that card. SO cool. And, I love the infectious excitement that you articulate so well. It makes us feel as if we are standing over your shoulder watching to see what is going to pop out next. LOVE YOU. Now move along and get those Olivebridge Posts up before you kill us with anticipation. One can only watch paint dry for so long….

    • 8.18.16
      Daniel said:

      I’M TRYING MOMMMMMMMM. *kiss kiss*

  3. 8.18.16

    This is so amazing. It’s a window into people’s thinking at the time. That little solarium must have served a purpose–a kind of pantry maybe? And OF COURSE they didn’t throw away a perfectly good window.
    We didn’t find anything hidden in the walls of our place either, and it’s a good 200 years older, so think of how many opportunities the occupants had for leaving treasures. And they failed. Sigh. One thing is, all the weight-bearing walls are made of stones, piled two feet thick. Incredibly well-insulated, but no crannies for leaving stuff. The other walls are called “torchis” and made of straw and lime. Yes, there’s 400-year-old straw still there in the walls, in fine shape. The beams are hand-hewn, and cracks between were filled meticulously with small stones.
    Just incredible.
    Did you see the movie “Le Fabuleux Destin d’Amélie Poulain”? The whole thing is set off by a discovery in a wall. Adorable film.

    • 8.18.16
      Daniel said:

      Amazing! I want to see your house soooooo badddddddd. Every time you leave a comment I want to buy a plane ticket!!

      I haven’t seen that movie! I’ll look it up! <3

    • 8.18.16
      Wendy said:

      I think that the movie is just called “Amelie” in English and it came out in 2001 – I loved it!

    • 8.19.16
      Adrien said:

      I was just raving about that movie the other day. It’s on Netflix and is a must-watch film.(It’s titled “Amelie from Monmartre” in English!)

    • 8.19.16
      Daniel said:

      Oh, I HAVE seen that movie! Amelie! Ha!

    • 9.4.16

      Let me know when you’ll be arriving. You should come in winter to get a break from the snow. Carcassonne–google it, and you’ll be buying a ticket.
      BTW, and I am sure I am speaking for many here, I am back because I was kind of hoping there would be a new post. It makes my day when you put one up–I examine all the photos about five times apiece. My only gripe is that the posts are too few and far between!

  4. 8.18.16
    Tisha said:

    I agree with Mariane, you need a baseball card holder or something similar to display that business card. Good find!
    Daniel, I have to admit, I laughed out loud when you said that you feel bad about putting furniture in any of the rooms. Didn’t you claim that half of the main floor is storage for all the pretty things that you bought while thrifting/vintage shopping?
    And thanks for showing the backside of the panels. I love reverse engineering everything, it’s what I think about when I have idle cycles. I don’t have much wood working experience, so this is extra good, since once we finish building a garage, the interior and new age and style appropriate moldings are on my list (and window maintenance!). Love that I learn something new with every one of your posts.

    • 8.18.16
      Daniel said:

      Ha! YES I AM A HOARDER LOCK ME UP! I’ve actually been working somewhat diligently on fixing that, though—there was this crazy psychological thing that happened when I bought the house that went something like “OMG I no longer live in a shoebox in New York! I have endless space! Fill the space! Buy the things!” that was…not great. I’ve learned to be a bit more discerning because my house actually DOESN’T have endless space (what?!?!) and I need to be reasonable!

      Molding talk is coming up soon, because I have to figure out the same stuff! I’ve just recently had my maiden voyage into custom millwork and it was easy and relatively painless, and not THAT expensive. I love my moldings until the end of time, but sometimes I wish they were something I could just pick up at Lowe’s!

    • 8.19.16
      Tisha said:

      So good to hear that it’s not prohibitively expensive for the custom millwork (and that you’re planning to talk about it soon!). Our house is a 1910 vintage Victorian, supposedly Queen Anne, but not really. It’s been changed a ton over the years (we had a woman who lived there from the 60’s through the 80’s stop by!), so I don’t have any hope of finding a gem like untouched panels anywhere. But I also don’t feel bad getting rid of anything that doesn’t suit my fancy. :) And I feel as though fancier molding will make everything so much nicer!

  5. 8.18.16
    Jeanna said:

    Cool find :) And I so love when your Mom jumps in and leaves a comment!

    • 8.18.16
      Daniel said:

      Me too :)

    • 9.11.16
      'col said:

      Daniel’s mom has her own fandom.

  6. 8.18.16
    Josh said:

    Have the addresses in the city changed since the time the house was potentially built? Having an older or alternate address would give you more search materials. I didn’t go into a detailed search, but there are a lot of pre-1860s maps (relatively) of Kingston and Ulster County. They probably won’t show your house (like a Sanborn map would) but they will show how the area around your house developed which can give you a good idea of when building started and what kind of things were being built. Interestingly, one early (~1875) map that I did look at showed that Franklin St. was called Bowery St. and there was a large cemetery in what now appears to be a parking lot for a place called Unlimited Care. This probably doesn’t help you at all, but still. The Ulster County Clerk has an archive and the archivists should be able to help you locate relevant maps and maybe other materials as well.

    • 8.18.16
      Daniel said:

      Yes, the addresses have changed! I know the name of my street changed, but I can’t remember when. It’s in a book I have, but not right next to me and I can’t remember. If you come back and wouldn’t minddddd…where did you find these maps? I think I’m really bad at research. I’d LOVE to see that 1875 map!! Even if only to see what the rest of the neighborhood was looking like.

      I really have to spend some serious quality time with the archives! I will. I will. I will!!

    • 8.19.16
      Josh said:
    • 8.19.16
      Daniel said:

      Very cool, thank you! I had no idea there was that cemetery between St. James and Franklin (Bowery on map)! Woah!

    • 8.19.16
      Lisa said:

      Page 77 shows an illustration of the Kingston Academy at the corner of Clinton and Maiden.

    • 8.19.16
      Lisa said:

      Sorry page 78

  7. 8.18.16
    Kristin said:

    So, we fall into that category of “diamond-finding” people. Which I obviously need to sell to afford my new addition / renovation.

    We also found a newspaper from a few days after JFK was shot, some old medicine bottles, an older ad for mattresses, and several NSFW drawings etched into the nasty attic walls.

    The house is looking SO good. Love the updates.

    • 8.18.16
      Daniel said:

      I think you’ve said before, but if you see this and want to humor me…what did you find again?! I vaguely remember, I’m just having a brain-fart. Your project is so so so cool.

    • 8.21.16
      Kristin said:

      Hey- thanks! We’re almost done with drawings on the addition. Let me tell you – there is nothing worse than playing architect and client (x2). We over analyze everything. So that’s why I read your blog, because it makes me feel sane. There are others out there!

      We found diamond rings. I was convinced they were costume jewelry and thought we tossed them / forgot about them. My husband had them cleaned and appraised and they are the real deal.

      They didn’t belong to the previous owners, and were buried at least a foot under ground. Our house was vacant for a few decades, so we really have no idea if they were lost when someone was working in the yard, or if someone tossed them over the fence – they were near the alley. Anyway, they were a bright spot in those really messy first years. Here’s the story:

  8. 8.18.16
    Kaye said:

    In our 1898 Kansas house, we found a leather (?!) postcard in one of the walls, and we found a good-sized piece of china and a tiny metal toy truck under the boards of the pantry.

    The postcard actually had a leather stamp and a real postmark dated 1905.

    • 8.18.16
      Daniel said:

      A leather postcard, that’s awesome!! So weird, so cool. I hope you have it on display or somewhere safe! Love that.

  9. 8.18.16
    Lisa said:

    You are doing such service for this house. And for those who built it and lived in it.

    • 8.18.16
      Daniel said:

      I’m trying, Lisa! I really hope they’d be proud and happy to see what’s going on. Or maybe they are! My contractor Edwin has reported seeing “people, but not real people” walking around during this project, so hopefully they’re silently approving. :)

    • 8.19.16
      NestFan said:

      I think it is way cool that Edwin sees ghosts in your house.

  10. 8.18.16
    Ellen said:

    Prop heaven!

  11. 8.18.16
    Kari said:

    That window find is gorgeous and one of a kind. I love when a house gives you all the materials you need. It’s so beautiful!

  12. 8.18.16
    Carol said:

    Your house loves you.

  13. 8.18.16
    Adrien said:

    My parents used to renovate old buildings. They have old liquor and medicine bottles, tobacco choppers, and even old letters received from faraway lovers…

  14. 8.18.16
    Adrien said:

    (from inside walls and floor boards!)

  15. 8.18.16
    Ryan said:

    It’s so great that the exterior panel is still there. Makes sense that they moved the entire section over to the new wall, but now days it would have been tossed in the trash because it’s faster (but not really). We haven’t found anything in the walls but did find a few mouse nests in the basement ceiling when we ripped the lathe and plaster off last weekend. I did find a few tiny medicine bottles in the back yard where I assume a trash fire might have been and a giant brass key fob for a motel about 150 miles away. I found a tiny paint chip once which was literally a tiny card less than 2″ square with a swipe of brown paint on it and the color name handwritten on the back.I’m not sure what it was for because nothing on or in the house was ever painted brown.

    I spend so much time staring at the walls trying to figure out how things were before and how they were constructed.

  16. 8.18.16
    Nola said:

    Really exciting finds! Love the detail you put into your posts!
    A thought occurred to me, as a genealogist, you may benefit from web sites with the name of the original owner. So, I dug around a little this morning, I was hoping for some glorious family photos with your house in the background, none were to be had this day but I did find one interesting thing, Mr. Fredenburgh’s will. I will transcribe what I found, you may find interesting in terms of some items he had in the home. Also, I noted that Mr. Fredenburgh married his wife, Matilda in the year 1860, previously living in Brooklyn and I think the very early year(s) of their marriage. The first mention of your residence is in an 1864 city directory. Hope the information is new for you! I also noticed that both sons remained with wives living in the house and the mentioned grand daughter, Georgie also lived in this house her whole life, it seems.

    I, William H. Fredenburgh of the City of Kingston in the Country of Ulster and State of New York, being of sound mind and memory, do make, publish and declare this my last Will and Testament, in the manner following, that is to say:
    First. – I direct that all my just debts and funeral expenses be paid.
    Second. – I give to my grand daughter Georgie W. Fredenburgh, five hundred dollars, the large gilt frame looking glass or mirror in the parlor, and the square grand piano in parlor.
    Third.- I give my nephew Gilead A. Smith, all my clothing.
    Fourth.- I give my friend and neighbor Mrs. J. Deyo Chipp, one oil painting picture, Winter Scene, fox with fowl in mouth jumping over fence.
    Fifth. – I give my son Wm. Whiting Fredenburgh, the gilt frame oval shaped looking glass on mantel in sitting room, and the picture dog chasing hare.
    Sixth. – I give to my old friend and fellow fisherman, Oliver P. Carpanter, my gold watch, marked W.H. Fredenburgh, 1872, No. 1083, on case, and No. 5655I on the works, “Eligia,” the gold chain and locket I wear therewith, and all my fishing tackle, in remembrance of the any fishing trips we had together.
    Seventh. – All the rest and remainder of my property to be equally divided between my two sons Walter S. and Wm. Whiting Fredenburgh.
    Lastly, I hereby appoint my friend Oliver P. Carpenter, sole executor of this, my last Will and Testament: hereby revoking all former wills by me made.

    • 8.19.16
      Daniel said:

      Thank you for this, Nola! So cool. I’ve done some research on this family but never came across the will! I also don’t remember coming across anything about them living in Brooklyn, but that’s fun to know, too. I think I read that the older son, Walter, actually moved out of the house around when he got married and built a different house down the street, a few blocks down! I don’t remember reading about Georgie but that’s great to know! I don’t think William Jr. had any children.

      I wonder if the “square grand piano” is the piano that’s still in the house!

    • 8.19.16
      Lisa said:

      Boooo, I’m no fun, but you have an upright piano. I square grand piano is distinctively different and super cool looking.

    • 8.19.16
      Nola said:

      I hadn’t thought about the piano that was left! That would be VERY cool, if it was the same one!
      Georgie married a man named Judson Neice Whitbeck sometime after 1902. He was a furniture salesman in 1920 and was 40 years old that year. He was the same age as Georgie. By 1930, she is listed as a widow. So, he died sometime between 1920-1930. She lived in the house until her death in 1945. There are no children listed for them anywhere, so I don’t think they had any. She is the daughter of the son, Walter Smith Fredenburgh and his wife was Effie Grace Snyder. Yes, you are correct, their address was down the street at No. 54.
      The other son, William Whiting Fredenburgh married Harriet Carr, she went by Hattie also. I find no children for them. In 1930 he is widowed (Hattie died 1922). He was 57 years old and his occupation was Organist teacher, working on own account. So, probably from your house? He had one 64 year old female servant from England living with him. Her name was Effie Willis.By 1940 only Georgie and a female boarder live in the house.
      One last note, Matilda, Hattie and Effie Snyder are buried in the there are Wiltwyck Cemetery. No mention of their husbands, but I would bet they are probably buried next to their wives.
      Also, if you want to see copies of anything, shoot me your email and/or I can invite you to the little family tree I made for them. Not much on it beyond what I have now told you though.

    • 9.25.16
      Alison said:

      Great work!!

  17. 8.18.16
    Eva said:

    So original owner started out in the city, moved to the house, and seemingly undertook a significant renovation? Are you beginning to worry that you’re Fredenburgh reincarnated?

    • 8.18.16
      furpants said:

      hahahaha. Eva, I think you might be on to something there.

      Daniel, you are the bestest!

    • 8.19.16
      Daniel said:

      Ha! He was also the first alderman of my ward (a position I ran for last year) and judging by his will (above, Nola’s comment!) had a thing for decorative mirrors. Ya never know!

    • 8.19.16
      Eva said:

      “…you’ve always been the caretaker…”

    • 8.23.16
      Lori said:

      This whole thread has me SERIOUSLY cracking up! But really, now I wonder! LOL

  18. 8.18.16
    Bethany said:

    Great find, great photos! I LOVE your blog!!

  19. 8.18.16
    gretaclark said:

    This post reminded me of playing the game”Clue”.

  20. 8.18.16
    beks said:

    It would be awesome to add photos to our comments or maybe some Manhattan Nest #’s so we could share our weird finds! Pretty sure we’d break the internets trending or whatever it is the kids are doing these days…

    …homemade nails, marbles, matchbooks, and a door :)

  21. 8.18.16
    Alexandra Marie said:

    Hidden treasures make me SO excited! I think that growing up watching Goonies and Indiana Jones is partially responsible.

    You should totally tuck some in there for future residents to find someday.

    • 8.19.16
      Daniel said:

      I know, I should! It’s weird that I haven’t done it yet.

  22. 8.19.16
    Louise said:

    You really struck gold there. When reading your post I hear a couple of rugby players chanting ´down, down, down, down` inside my head. I really want the solarium down I think =)

    • 8.19.16
      Daniel said:

      I knowwwwwwww me toooooooooo :)

  23. 8.19.16
    PhillyLass said:

    Daniel, that house is so so so lucky to have you! I’m so happy there are people out there saving these beautiful old homes and delighting in their history!

  24. 8.19.16
    Eileen said:

    I had a meat hook tumble out of a ceiling I was taking down in my 1925 bungalow, narrowly missing my shoulder. At which point my helpers left me to my own devices, sure that a body would be not far behind. In case you’re wondering, search “metal boning hook.” No, no body. At least not under the stuff I took down!

    • 8.19.16
      Daniel said:

      Yikes! (also that google search brings up an alarming number of lingerie photos, haha)

    • 9.11.16
      'col said:

      That is both terrifying and perplexing. Like…how does *that* get there? Postcard in the wall is pretty easy to understand but what is the sequence of events that puts a meat hook in the ceiling of a one-story building? “I’ll just put this in here for…uh…safe-keeping.”

    • 9.25.16
      Alison said:

      So I can sleep tonight I’ve decided it was there to support a hanging chair. No, I don’t care if other factors make that not work!

  25. 8.19.16
    Alma said:

    I literally let out a yelp when I saw the panel! How very awesome. I did that too when I was working in some walls and we removed some drywall and I start smelling mahogany. Lo and behold, the whole house structure is mahogany and so is all the trim in the house. I researched and it was typical in the 1950s. Phillipinne mahogany was super cheap. That alone won’t let me move out of this house.

  26. 8.19.16
    Ashli said:

    Have you considered leaving some things behind before you put the siding back up? In the old theater I used to work it, every time there was work done on the building they left a soda can with the dates of the work written on the side. We found some very old cans in the rafters. It was cool to know that even then they were looking ahead to what the future workers might find. Maybe a sealed letter in a ziplock with everything you know and suspect about the house?

  27. 8.19.16
    sara said:

    longtime lurker to say i admire all of the work you are doing with the house and always look forward to seeing posts with the progress on all of your projects. and agree with a prior commenter that the card needs to be framed in double sided glass!

  28. 8.19.16
    jeannette said:

    this is the first blog that ever made me scream aloud. your long lost original panel is the favor at the bottom of the jack in the box. omened by your fredenburgh business card find. so happy for you and your lovely house.

  29. 8.20.16
    Bryan said:

    This card is what is called a trade card and we’re common at this time.

  30. 8.20.16
    Anne Boleyn said:

    I absolutely LOVE this post!!!

  31. 8.20.16
    Cindy said:

    Very cool find! Totally off topic but have you watched Stranger Things on Netflix? Dying to know what you think!! Hugs!!

  32. 8.20.16
    Luna said:

    Your house is like a sleeping beauty being slowly but surely woken up :)

  33. 8.22.16
    Molly said:

    I am helping my sister (very slowly) restore a 1759 farm house in Boothbay Harbor, Maine and we have found a few little things in the walls. The funniest by far however has been a card that read “betty the whore” with a 212 number on it. I am hoping we find some older stuff as demo progresses but we just started.

  34. 8.23.16
    Milky said:

    We found the real estate section of a newspaper from 1988 scrunched in our kitchen walls when we renovated it recently :) Interesting to know how old the old kitchen was, and interesting to see how ridiculously cheap property was in those days – we spent as much doing up the 80s kitchen as it would have cost to buy a lakefront home back then!

  35. 8.24.16
    greta said:

    Hi Daniel. One quick question-what shop name was the hat shop business card you found? Was it Mode y Robes? One of my great aunts had a hat shop in NYC about this time!

  36. 8.25.16
    Ashli said:


    I don’t know if you saw, (but I did and I got super excited,) Ikea brought back their roller blinds. They’re called SKOGSKLÖVER now.


    • 8.31.16
      Jill said:

      omg. THANK YOU!

  37. 8.25.16
    Kristina said:

    I’ve been lurking here for months, enjoying every post. That house…you and it are lucky to have found each other. We moved back to our family’s farm 20 years ago, into the house that the family needed us to live in (as in, we didn’t get to choose). It is a ranch house, built piecemeal as my Aunt and Uncle had enough cash saved to add on, more or less coherently, more or less safely, before building codes. We did a major renovation five years ago, and found multiple mementos from my older cousins, closed up accidentally in the walls — metal toy cars, playing cards, little footprints in red paint on the slab, PG girly pin-ups from the 60s. The best was seeing what my ever-frugal uncle used for reinforcement in his concrete — metal folding chairs, parts of stoves, basically any metal he could lay hands on for free. Nothing so cool as your find, though it did reinforce my Uncle Bob’s “family character” cred.

  38. 8.26.16
    Milton Mcgorrill said:

    I have read your blog since you moved to Brooklyn and had not yet found this house. Now I check back all the time for updates. I am about to retire, and will need to leave Boston (way too expensive) and I am going to move to Maine and buy a little old house somewhere to live in. Should be an adventure.

    To the point of this note, your house appears to me to have some roots in the Greek Revival. One of my college instructors (back in the early 1970’s, an era when dinosaurs roamed the earth) wrote a little paperback volume on the Greek Revival architecture and its application for houses in Maine. I recommend it highly, she discusses not just the appearance of the Greek Revival, but the mechanical systems, builders, and decorative styles.

    A Home for Everyman; The Greek Revival and Maine Domestic Architecture by Joyce K. Bibber
    Publisher: Univ Pub Assoc (February 28, 1989)
    ** used copies available at Amazon for $5.00 and up

    It is a short book, with line drawing illustrations and I found it fascinating. Professor Bibber taucht English in the University of Southern Maine and was a tough but fair Professor. She has also written several historical photograph books on several communities and colleges in Maine.

    The blurb for the book in Amazon says
    “While romantic Gothic and Italianate buildings first appeared in Maine in the pre-Civil War decades, the predominant style of the period was the Greek Revival. Its bold classical vocabulary translated easily and practically into local wood, brick, and stone to create a dignified appearance for any building type. Despite the large number of Greek Revival structures which survive in 20th century Maine, architectural historians have been slow to address this remarkable heritage. “A Home for Everyman” addresses this historical deficit. Rather than simply tracing the evolution of stylistic treatments, the author has chosen to analyze a building type-domestic architecture-and to consider how style, traditions, and advances in building technology blended to create housing in Maine during the second quarter of the 19th century. The Greek Revival house is considered as a whole and in detail, both inside and out, for its structure, plan, stylistic characteristics, and decorative finishes. Mechanical systems such as heating and plumbing are also investigated. Finally, consideration is given to the carpenters, builders, and architects who were responsible for the construction of these homes. The use of line drawings provides a clear focus for the reader and enables the author to convey the essence of each feature.”

    Keep up the good work!!


    • 9.28.16
      Daniel said:

      Thank you so much, Milton! I’ll definitely see if I can get my hands on a copy!

  39. 8.26.16
    kmkat said:

    Seeing that final photo and the newly visible panel? Made me smile out loud!

    When we replaced the ceiling in our 4-season porch on the Minneapolis house we found a newspaper from the year the house was built, 1937. (That counts as kinda old in the Midwest.)

  40. 8.28.16
    Heather said:

    Have you been leaving things behind? When I was little we did a big remodel on our house and left a time capsule in a wall.

  41. 8.29.16
    Milky said:

    You can just sharpie “” on some framing before you close it up. I wonder if they’ll still have the internet in 100 years?

  42. 8.29.16
    Christina said:

    OMG found a website that gives next level house shade, Daniel it made me think of you immediately. “Literally the truck nuts of entryways” is a good example from the latest post on windows:
    Hugs from Detroit!

    • 9.28.16
      Daniel said:


  43. 8.30.16
    Martin said:

    More updates, please and thank. Great job on the house!

  44. 8.31.16
    Jill said:

    I totally hear you on the ‘haven’t really found too much of interest tearing apart an old home’ front. Though we did find an ENORMOUS artillery shell in the backyard when we were digging it up and that’s when our excavation adventure promptly stopped and was saved for professionals who were insured for death and dismemberment.

    But back when I was doing the main renovation on the house (ok, the first round), I took some inspiration photos in some of the mews in Brooklyn Heights and posted them. I got a comment from some guy who bought a carriage house on Grace Court Alley on one of my posts – and HE FOUND AN ENTIRE ADDITIONAL FLOOR TO HIS HOUSE WHEN HE DID HIS RENO, HOLY COW. Let me see if I can dig up the comments he sent me:

    “After living there for 6 years or so I did a 110% gut renovation that lasted 20 months. It was taken down to a dirt floor, 4 stone and brick walls, and rafters open to the sky. Don’t worry though, any and all original details were saved and/or exposed. When I bought the place 10 years ago the interior was 100% new. Not a single old nail was showing. Now I’ve got exposed joists in the kitchen and all 3 bedrooms. The original stone wall exposed in the kitchen, dining room, master bedroom and master bath. The original floor revealed in the master bedroom. Built-in benches surrounding the living room made out of old floor joists split in half. A hearth made of stones we found during the excavation. Oh, and all the milk bottles and beer bottles and chunks of brownstone balustrade we unearthed when we excavated the basement we found.

    Yep. I found a basement. Most these houses? The horses went in the back of the 1st floor with the carriages in the front. But my place is really shallow — no room for horses. So they had a ramp that led to a basement and the horses lived down there. When it became a garage in 1919 they must’ve been concerned with the floor carrying the weight of cars so they filled it in with dirt and put a new floor on top. A week before the renovation started a light bulb went off in my head and I realized that the funny bluestone pavers in front of my house (now gone) were evidence of 2 coal chutes… that had to lead somewhere. So we started digging. And we found gorgeous Manhattan schist walls that go all the way down. So yes, I actually lived that Manhattan dream — I found an an entire floor to my house that I didn’t know existed.”

    Email me if you want to see pictures – though be forewarned, it’s sooo jealousy-inducing. COULD YOU IMAGINE?!

    • 8.31.16
      Jill said:

      Actually, for those interested, looks like they ended up doing a house tour!

    • 9.13.16
      NestFan said:

      That looks amazing. Sorry there are no photos of the basement.

      Its like the dreams I have of finding extra rooms in my apartments (which I only have when in live in small places) come true – only I don’t have to dig them out, they’re just there, empty, waiting for me to find uses for them.

  45. 9.14.16
    Luna said:

    Hi Daniel, are you ok? When there hasn’t been a post for a while I get worried you’ve fallen off a roof or a wall has fallen on top of you. Of course, you’re probably are in fine form, busy preparing another epic post for us, but we worry…!

    • 9.14.16
      Ashli said:

      I think he’s traveling right now. If you click the little camera image at the top of the page (under his face.) You can see his instagram site. He has a bunch of pictures of Berlin up right now.

      PS You can usually see sneak peaks of house there too.

    • 9.28.16
      Daniel said:

      I’m fine! Ashli is right—I took an actual real live vacation (germany and austria!) wherein I used my computer exclusively as a Netflix Machine. Getting back into the swing of things now, and it feels good! :)

  46. 9.15.16
    Luna said:

    ooh thanks for the tip Ashli, glad to hear he’s ok :)

  47. 9.15.16
    Luna said:

    EEK! just clicked on the camera and found MORE Daniel – I’m in heaven! What planet have I been living on!?!?

    • 9.28.16
      Daniel said:

      Welcome to the party!! :)

  48. 9.27.16

    Congratulations on your Blog and finding the card. I love this aspect or renovation. From my own experience, I’ve found very little renovating the inside, more clues found digging the garden. An old fire poker used as a plant stake, an old stoneware ginger beer bottle, lead soldiers with terrible injuries… When I demolished a skillion outbuilding I found the original copper name plate for the house. It was all folded and squashed and pretty beaten up. I managed to flatten it out pretty well. Reinstated it on the house. If you hadn’t guessed, it is Trafalgar. It’s now my email address and ID.

    Keep up the good work!

  49. 9.29.16
    Jemma said:

    Daniel! Are you ok? We miss you! Starting to worry you may have at have accidentally plastered yourself into a wall cavity or something. Send signs of life! Hope you are ok xx

  50. 9.30.16
    'col said:

    I am so excited for Found in the Wall, part two. So, so excited.