Wednesday, August 20, 2014

This Old House

Hello! My husband and I bought our first house, which was in Stevens Point, WI, back in 1988. We were fortunate in that a local historian had already compiled a book about older houses in the area, with our house included. Thus, we already knew the date of the house - 1871 - and the names of the families who had lived in it. 

Subsequent moves resulted in us becoming owners of three more older houses. Never did learn when houses #2 and #3 had been built and who had lived in them. Guess we'd been spoiled by the work done by that historian in Wisconsin.

Our current house is in a local historic district, complete with its own neighborhood association. Several years ago, the association began a house plaque program, giving homeowners a chance to order signage that shows off the date their homes were constructed.

Finally got around to ordering our own plaque. First, of course, I had to find out when our house had been built. We had thought it was around 1906, but I wanted to be sure. Had to visit three institutions around town that keep local historical records before I got my answer. It was in the archives of the local museum that I learned that our house actually dates to 1895. 

At the same time, I learned the name of the first owner, and found three listings in the phone book with the same surname. I'll contact these folks to see if they are any relation. I'm hoping that if they are, they may have some older photos of the house that we could make copies of. The oldest photo of our house the museum archives has dated from the mid 1970's. 

Still, it was nice to learn the date of our house's "birth", especially since it's older than what we had thought. Now we have this nice plaque, which arrived about a week ago:

One thing about an older home - it's not unusual to find now-vintage belongings left behind by previous owners. Sometimes it's items clearly deemed too cumbersome to move, like old porcelain sinks, old ladders, and old furniture. 

Sometimes there's smaller things that didn't make the move - nothing valuable, but still fun when discovered in a basement or garage. For instance, this:

Vintage wooden crate - not sure of it age, but given that it has a four-digit phone number, it may date from around the 1920's-1930's. Ironically, although the crate came from Manitowoc, WI, this crate was found in the basement of our current house. I use it to store reading material and craft supplies.

Found near the crate was the above, a serving spoon labeled "Tudor Plate Oneida Community Made" on the back. 

Close up of the pattern:

From doing a bit of online research, I learned that this pattern is called "Queen Bess" and dates from 1924. I'd say that the spoon is in very good shape considering it's 90 years old and had been languishing in the basement for who knows how long. It cleaned up nicely and now lives in our kitchen. I do use it from time to time for its intended purpose of dishing out food. 

Not exactly left behind, but instead covered up:

Our kitchen had sustained some water damage in March, and this wallpaper was discovered when the restoration crew removed the soggy wallpaper that had been placed over it. Although the newer wallpaper design is nice enough, I like this older pattern better. I saved a scrap of it that had come off the wall, and hope there's more to be saved when the remodeling crew comes next month to repair the damaged kitchen. 

And so it goes with an older house - history lurks at every corner!


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