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Saturday, April 21, 2012

Vintage Voice: The Writing on the Wall

This is not the first time I have found writing and dates in our house.

When you have a house as old as ours, and dozens upon dozens of owners over the last 126 years, you might expect to find some things of that sort.

The most obvious ones I have found, very early on when we bought the house, was initials and names written in the cement floor of the basement. I don't know when the basement floor was poured; it was many years after the house was built, I am sure. There is a date also, but it is partially obscured by a wall, so I cannot read it.

I also found numerous pencil marks on the underside of some stairs off the kitchen that used to be covered by plaster and lathe and were exposed by the previous owners when they did some electrical work. Some are carpenter's marks, there are also names, including the date of 1886 and also the name of the man who we believe was the builder of our house. I have not been able to photograph these; they are written in pencil and are mostly readable if you have the right light, but not easy to photograph.

This one, however, I just discovered today:

This name and date was written on the backside of the triple chimney that runs up the center of our house, all the way from the basement to the third floor (attic).  The name is "J.McNulty" and I think the first number is a "9", followed by "15" and then "04".  From our research into the house, we had already been aware that a family by the name of Joseph and Georgia McNulty had owned our house from about April 1904 until sometime in 1906. I think this was written in charcoal pencil.

The picture above I altered the contrast a little to make the letters more visible in the photo. This photo is one that I took and did not alter at all.

This is the backside of the triple chimney in the attic where I found the writing. There is a small window opposite this, which is why there is good light here. The writing is about midway up the chimney, but you can't even see it in this photo.
Obviously, I have been up in this attic numerous times in the five and a half years we have lived here, but I don't often come around this side of the chimney,although last summer I was up here looking at this chimney pretty closely because we kept getting birds ( they are always starlings) in the attic and I was trying to figure out how they were getting in and I thought it might be an opening in the chimney (there isn't). I didn't even see the writing then, however.

Today, it just so happened I was up in the attic because, once again, we have a bird in the attic and I was trying to flush it out a window that I opened.
 I was "hiding" silently behind the chimney, waiting for the bird to think I was gone, because it hides somewhere when I come up there. As I stood there, bored, looking at the roof, clicking my flashlight at the corners, sweating, staring at the bricks and thinking how old they are and how cool that they are so old.....I saw it, just like that.
It's slightly above eye level for me, but since it was only about a foot in front of my face, I was astonished when I realized what it was. I felt transported through time, as I pictured the gentleman from 1904 standing right where I was, writing his name and date, for posterity, I suppose.

It made for a fun little attic adventure; one that was much more pleasant than what I was actually doing up there. I'm still not sure if the bird got out or not; we're still looking for him.

Thanks for stopping by!



Doni said...

Katie, I think that your post was incredibly interesting!! Wouldn't it be cool if a McNulty great grand child was around and could see the signature? Maybe they will find your post some day and be all excited that you took the time to share it.

Pam said...

What a neat find! So cute that you were "hiding" from the bird. We used to have bats in out attic in an older house I lived in. I would hide from them, but just so they wouldn't fly too close to me. I would have taken birds over the bats.

Richard Cottrell said...

it is always so exciting to find a treasure of the past like this. I wish more people had left us such presents. Richard from My Old Historic House.

Bead and Needle said...

What a fabulous treasure you found! Don't you wonder if he was up there chasing starlings, too? :-) Happy Sunday, Katie...Tanya

~Tablescapes By Diane~ said...

Hi lovely lady.
I love your found Treasure in this old house Wow!!! Thanks so much for your sweet comments on my Earth Day Tablescape. Hope you and your family have a wonderful week coming up.
XXOO Diane

Jacqueline~Cabin and Cottage said...

Fascinating! No writing anywhere in my house, but it's not old like yours. Old places like yours hold so much interest. Right down to the birds!