Last weekend, we spent hours in the sun on a Quixotic hunt for the bakery door buried beneath the mound of bricks, spiders, and rubble. Alas, the door was never found. On Sunday, we moved on to the next pile of debris….
We’ve been slowly progressing through the house, scrub brush in hand, in an effort to clear out every corner (and this house has quite a few corners). We had successfully emptied every room, save one: the hottest, darkest, and dustiest of them all: THE ATTIC…the Final Frontier.
The stairs that previously had the red runner have a counterpart up to a “third floor” – the dramatic ascent is slightly anticlimactic.
Hard to believe Chad had already cleared out a whole room’s worth of the previous owner’s possessions. What you’re seeing here, folks, is your attic multiplied by ten extra decades. Imagine how many boxes of Christmas lights and baby clothes you have tucked away in your attic, confident that every item would undoubtedly be put to great use again in the future…and then remained there for the rest of its days. One trip at a time the stuff multiples, and one trip at a time, Chad and I took it all the way down to the dump trailer.
Step One: Sunlight is the best disinfectant.
The attic has a hatch that provides roof access. It, however, is not for the faint of heart (me), and I left it up to Chad to survey the roof’s status and to take in the beautiful view.
Step Two: Start hauling. Carefully.
Chad and I are really dorky and we see the potential in weird, old things, like bent lamp shades, a vinyl GM luggage rack circa 1970, a tripod base with no top, and a few old wooden barrel hoops. But, all in all, it was mostly twenty trips up and down three flights of stairs to the dumpster. As the day wore on, the attic began to heat up, and just like my paleontology phase the day before, the charm was wearing off as the thermometer was rising.
After about 3 hours of trash removal, we were down to the final corner in the entire house. It was a corner with absolutely no light, a suspect floor, and my patience was shot. There was boxes with miscellaneous broken item and melted goo (what the heck WAS that?), and a trunk full of mildewy looking paper scraps.
And, for the love of Pete, is that more red berber carpet in that box???
We were initially of a mind to heave the whole thing into the dumpster (we’d been picking small scraps of paper up off the floor for hours – these were conveniently packaged in an easy-to-trash box!), but cooler heads prevailed.
We carefully unrolled a few scrolls of crumbly paper, and to our delight, we hit pay dirt. This pile of paper turned out to be the remnants of old wall paper – beautifully, and miraculously preserved, 19th-century, hand-painted, wall paper:
Digging further into the trunk, we also found a musty old book.
THIS IS THE MOMENT I DREAMED ABOUT AS A KID – FINDING AN AWESOME TREASURE IN A NASTY OLD ATTIC!!!! WOOOOOO!!!!!! (and yes, I really did dream about this…)
The book is a record of hundreds of purchases made in 1839. It is organized chronologically, providing a daily account of who shopped, what they bought, and how much it cost. Callico, butter, gloves, nails, quince, and the list goes on…in perfect penmanship, nonetheless.
The store was in Mount Jackson, which is still just up the road and is home to our closest grocery store. Some of the customer names in the ledger are family names that are still prominent in the area.
We also found these tags:
We knew that Samuel Moore had been one of Edge Hill’s original owners! Hooray! We did a little quick research and realized that the Moore Family had owned a locally famous general store, later burned by Sheridan’s Army in the Civil War. All the puzzle pieces in the trunk started falling into place. More to come in our next post regarding this awesome history lesson.
We also found some turn-of-the-century hand weights:
I think they only weigh about one pound each, so you’d have to do about 3,000 reps to get a burn.
The trunk also contained what we believe are some of the house’s original window valances – wall paper backed with newspaper, and adorned with cut-outs of flowers. The newspaper articles are from the 1890s and seem to originate from Minnesota. Luckily, the red fabric poking out of the box turned out not to be more berber runner, but rather the tassels on the valances. Maybe not the most beautiful specimens any more, but fabulous that they have made it this long in the hot, hot attic.
Our last treasure was a wonderful map – we haven’t taken pictures yet, as this might be the subject of a future escapade and thus of a future post. It’s huge, and simply identifies the center of the African continent as “Unexplored Territory.” So. Cool.
In the words of the immortal Forest Gump: life at Edge Hill’s like a box of chocolates…you never know what you’re gonna get :)