Dead Space - Predictions?

Old_Home_LoverMarch 7, 2013

So much happening with our house! The great-grand-daughter of the woman whose great-grandfather built it contacted us, helping us date the house to sometime in the early 1800s. (The tax office has it listed as 1875 but apparently that's the first year they assessed and 1875 is the year listed for all structures existing at that time.)

Then we got the rooms all measured out and discovered a 5 foot discrepancy in the back room of the servant's quarters. Three of the walls are bead-board, but this last wall is a sort of horizontal plank and the wall sits fully five feet off of the exterior wall according to the measurements. The thing is, I don't believe this was a late addition, since there are clear indications that a hearth used to sit against that wall but was removed, and the chimney is still visible through the ceiling (also right against this wall).

We won't be able to get up there and poke at it for several weeks, so in the meantime, anyone want to take guesses as to what it might have been?

Also, any suggestions on the best way to go about seeing in there without compromising too much?

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In urban houses of two or more stories, there were frequently one or more back stairs that servants would use to move about their chores and to their garret rooms. Over the years, these stairs were abandoned. They are usually too steep and with insufficient headroom to meet modern building Codes.

Witness the stairs below at Graceland:

Source: *

This post was edited by worthy on Fri, Mar 8, 13 at 9:47

    Bookmark   March 8, 2013 at 7:57AM
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They make fiber optic cameras rather inexpensive these days and you might be able to find a crevice you could get it through and take a peek.

Let's hope you don't find Mr. Hoffa.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2013 at 8:05AM
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EEP! In one instance I know of, they found a body. Some sleuthing revealed that the deceased had been there since about 1860.

You can use a "flexible inspection camera" - it can be inserted through a hole and scan the area.

Here is a link that might be useful: Like this one

    Bookmark   March 9, 2013 at 5:01PM
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I think the most likely would stairwell as suggested above, or a huge cooking fireplace or built-in cast iron range, both indicating that it was the original upstairs kitchen.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2013 at 11:20AM
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Please tell us what your structure is made of. I live in an 1820s brick. In those days, brick homes were triple course, and the exterior walls quite thick, with essentially an air space between the courses. Even the interior walls are plaster over brick and at least a foot and a hall deep. Each room had a fireplace, of course since it was a very large home for its time. The hearths and chimneys are quite large, since each one must accomodate two fireplaces. The one in the kitchen and the room above it is exceptionally large to accomdate cooking, and spans most of the wall across the room, and is three feet deep jutting into the room. If you add the three foot firebox and hearth to the two foot depth of the brick wall you will have five feet. I'd also guess that is was an old hearth somebody has just closed off, but not left inglenooks to either side.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2013 at 8:01AM
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You don't even need a fibre-optic camera if you can make a hole big enough for your digital and the flash. At least it would be a smaller hole than needed for your head and a flashlight.

If it's servant's quarters I'd bet on stairway. Maybe it needed repair at about the time there were no more servants, so they decided not to bother.

Karin L

    Bookmark   March 13, 2013 at 11:33PM
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Are you on one of the historical Underground Railroad routes? A friend of mine in Palmyra, NY found a dead space behind her daughter's closet that was accessible only through the attic floor, and was just the right size for a person to stand upright. Escaped slaves were frequently smuggled through this area on their way to Canada. We wondered if it was a hidey-hole to conceal the presence of a slave if the police came around.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   March 27, 2013 at 10:20AM
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So Old Home Lover, are you going to just leave us all hanging....?

    Bookmark   April 28, 2013 at 6:37PM
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