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Photos: The Writing on the Wall
Uncovering the Messages from Carpenters Past
One of my main passions besides writing is carpentry. Specifically, renovating old houses. I've done projects for myself, for family and for a living. I have come to appreciate the beauty and quality of old houses. Today I found something that I've seen before, and I wanted to share it with others who don't get to see this kind of thing on a regular basis.
Something perhaps not everyone knows about the renovation process is that we uncover some really awesome history. Working on old houses means finding artifacts that fell back behind furniture or trim. In one 200-year-old house I found a 130-year-old church program behind a mantle we were temporarily removing. We also found empty liquor bottles behind the plaster and lathe in the ceilings. Plaster guys having too much fun I guess.
The more elusive, and therefore more valuable in my eyes, artifacts in old houses are the writings on the walls. I've found drawings from kids under 150 years of wall paper that were only visible when the plaster was wet from my wallpaper scraping. These discoveries are a nice reminder in the middle of a day of hard work that houses are these incredible living museums. Sometimes the drawings are pretty obviously from kids, sometimes they are things like home drawn height charts documenting the growth of a family, and sometimes they are notes left by carpenters and tradesfolk of the past.
Today while I was working on a window, my eye caught a drawing on the plaster wall next to me. As I focused my vision, I realized there was not one but several drawings on the wall of the room I'd been working in for a week. The drawings are so faint that they are only visible in a certain light.
As you can see, some of these are simply goofy drawings. Two of them are the sort of notations us tradespeople frequently make when working on houses (little sketches, measurements, marking the placement of something, etc.) The date is a little blurry, but to my eye it is marked 1942. A lot of times we end up covering up these old marks when renovating, but I like to take pictures to preserve them for a little while longer.
The archeology of houses is something you have to grow to appreciate. Look around if you find yourself in an old house; you never know what you might find. And I'll keep leaving my mark for future discovery.
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