Kitchen Time Capsule

home4all6May 6, 2011

When you were reno-ing your kitchen (or other spaces in your home) did you find any sort of time capsule, left there to "date" the kitchen or send a message to the future renovators? When we took out the wood paneling in our retro blue bathroom, we found the original, handwritten paperwork from the lumber yard for all the wood and other material, dated 1960. Pretty cool!

I've heard that carpenters will leave a penny with the year on it under the countertops, kinda cool!

So, what cool things have you found?

And what cool things are you leaving for future-finders?

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I had forgotten that I myself had magicmarkered the old plaster wall behind the range with our names, info about the house and the then-current remodel and former owners and as much other info as I could fit into the space sitting cross-legged in there. Rather startling, since it was abt 35 yrs since I did this, a young but apparently forward looking woman then. (We bought this as a starter house and were not at all sure we'd live here very long.) I must remember to do something similar behind our new range in its new niche. Somebody will see it someday.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2011 at 1:06PM
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@ florantha--cool! (as evidenced by my original post, I am in a very "cool" mood today. oy. Must ask for a thesaurus for Mother's Day, as motherhood has clearly affected my vocabulary!) But really, I think that is a great idea. The more info, the better....for someone, someday. I love that!

We did something similar in our house growing up, when we finished the basement. We wrote on the walls between the studs, messages to the future.

I really think GW should start a trend--a house-scrapbook/owners manual. It would include the basics, like the instruction manuals for the washing machine, etc, but also photos of the house, it's occupants, the neighborhood, the houses' past, renovations, paint colors, etc. Standard issue, when you buy a house, it gets passed along to the next owners.

I know when we sold our last house, FSBO, a girl who had grown up in the house came to see it. And she was amazed at the changes in the house, telling me all about how it used to look, as well as what the neighborhood was like when she was growing up there. It was FASCINATING!

    Bookmark   May 6, 2011 at 1:22PM
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When I had oak floors refinished in my 1927 cottage on June 12, 2004 (can't really remember the exact date), the guys found an old,tattered newspaper dated June 12, 1944 under a floor board! The paper was in such poor condition I ended up throwing it out, but whatever the date was, it was the exact same day 60+ years earlier. Freaky, huh? I should have put it back and added a coin or something, but didn't think of it at the time. Maybe I'll slide a couple of pictures under the new cabinets--a kitchen "before" and a current exterior shot.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2011 at 1:29PM
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We converted our 1825 2 family back into the original single. Under the new main staircase I left all the architecture plans, a copy of my blog to date, 20+ color picutres from the street and town center, the Sunday Boston Globe and 2 letters from my kids on their typical school day and weekend day including things like turning on a light, using a remote to turn on the TV, etc. I told them if the original owners wrote about their typical day it would be very different from theirs.

The previous owner's son put a time capsule from the 1950's under an outdoor oven. We're taking it down this summer and he will bring his grandkids to open it.

I was hoping for jewels and gold in the walls to help pay for the renovation but no luck.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2011 at 2:14PM
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No, but I did write on the sheetrock behind the medicine cabinet in our hall bathroom before DH installed the med cab. I think I wrote the date the bathroom was reno'd, the tile guy's name and his assistant's name (the assistant tiled the backsplash wall around the cab opening). I also drew a big heart with my and my DH's initials!

    Bookmark   May 6, 2011 at 2:15PM
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If you are in the middle of a renovation, and this thread tempts YOU to leave a capsule for future renovators, I have a suggestion. Why not leave "BEFORE pictures" -- i.e., show them what the kitchen looked like before you did the renovation that they are now renovating.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2011 at 4:03PM
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Our house isn't that old, 1962, we are the second owners and have lived here for 15 yrs. We plan on inviting the original owner to see our renovations, she's still in the area. But leaving a capsule is a great idea! Even though we plan on being here another 20 years or more.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2011 at 4:32PM
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My house was built in 1938, I'm only the 2nd owner. Unfortunately the PO didn't leave anything when they remodeled the kitchen in the mid 50's.

BF came up with the idea to leave something behind for the next kitchen renovation. The granite guys were on their way over to install, so I quickly wrote a short note about the house and the remodel to the next owners (or at least the next owners who reno the kitchen), and dropped it and the front section of our newspaper behind the super susan cabinet. The granite sealed it in. If I had more time, I would have included pictures.

If this kitchen lasts as long as the previous one, someone should find that note in about 2065.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2011 at 5:03PM
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Our house is not that old is was built in 1980 but we've been remodeling it slowly since we've bought it 8 years ago. While redoing our foyer and staircase we found old savings bonds hidden in the ceiling that was 40 years old. With every project we try to include something of the now in the walls. For our kitchen reno (which we are still doing) I included the before pictures and since we are DIYers I included pictures of my kids helping with the demo. When we did my teenager daughter's room she wanted to include items that a teen would be into in 2011 a long with a letter explaining what everything was.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2011 at 5:12PM
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We once found a very, very old newspaper. In this same 100 year old house, a previous owner left a coin in the cement at the bottom of the basement stairs. When we renovated the kitchen in this 5o year old house, I put my and DH's initals in a heart on one of the beams.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2011 at 5:13PM
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This is so cool! I told my husband the other day I would like to write scriptures on the walls so maybe one day whoever redid kitchen could see the scriptures. Putting before & after pics & other info in the walls etc. is a great idea ! I have time so I think I will do that too ! Thanks!

    Bookmark   May 6, 2011 at 5:45PM
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In our first house - a 1700's cape in the Berkshires. We found a knapsack that belonged to the original owner who had carried it in the Revolutionary War with a note from a son inside. There were also signatures on some of the beams in the attic that were made of tree stumps. That house had the smallest imaginable kitchen but I am sure there would have been treasures to be found if we to have been able to renovate it....alas we were transferred to another state... in those days...13 moves in 13 years.....

    Bookmark   May 6, 2011 at 6:10PM
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When we remodeled our kitchen three years ago I placed a time capsule on the shelf of a window were were covering up. I don't remember exactly what was in it but I do remember I wrote about the house, our family and placed 2008 coins in it.

We bought our home new so the only thing we've ever found during a remodel is an empty beer can. Perhaps that explains the un-square walls ... sigh.


    Bookmark   May 6, 2011 at 6:30PM
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Fun stories!

My brother bought an old frame house and moved it to his property to turn into a rent house. While doing some remodeling he found some newspapers from the 1930's. He brought them over and in looking through the want ads we found a listing for a house on my street. What a surprise! The house happened to be for sale at the time with a list price of $765,000. In the ad it was for sale for $37,000. I didn't know the owners but I made a xerox copy of the ad and mailed it to them. I hope they thought it was as cool as I did. :)

    Bookmark   May 6, 2011 at 7:05PM
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collins design

My daughter left a traditional time capsule (current newspaper, etc.) in the studs when we reno'd our kitchen 2 years ago. When we did the last bathroom reno this winter, I wrote a message in Sharpie on the inside of the sheetrock before we closed up the walls ("This bathroom was renovated by the XXX Family, December 2010", with a list of the upgrades and finishes and everything we changed.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2011 at 7:07PM
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Cool stories! My house was built in 1908. I found a cigarette package that a builder must have dropped when they were laying the original floors. I always keep these sort of things.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2011 at 7:45PM
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My favorite story is not about my own house, but a house nearby. Landon House in Urbana, MD.

I heard the story from the friend of an owner. I think it was the late 70's. She left instructions with the workers to remove the layers of wallpaper in the kitchen while she went out to run errands. She got back just in the nick of time to stop them from painting over the drawings on the wall.

There were charcoal drawings and writings drawn by civil war solders. The house have been used as a hospital during the war. The house has changed hands, but the drawings are now covered and protected by plexiglass.

I can't take credit for this picture, but found it when I googled in.

Those soldiers probably never considered that their doodling would be a treasured piece of history. I think it's a good idea to leave some sort of time capsule. 100 years from now somebody else may find our archaic digital photographs "cool".

    Bookmark   May 6, 2011 at 7:56PM
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when DH was removing drywall to install a sub panel next to the main electrical panel, we found 4 empty bottles of Miller Hi Life along with the cardboard 6-pack holder. We presume the electricians drank the last two on the way home...

at least we know the PO or his GC/architect didn't overpay his subs


    Bookmark   May 6, 2011 at 8:18PM
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These are such great stories--I love them all! Thanks for sharing and I hope everyone leaves some sort of message hidden in their reno's.

It reminded me, too, that under our kitchen (which was added on at some point) there is now basement. And one of the old doors that looks like storage is actually the stairs that were the cellar entrance from the outside years ago. The stairs were covered over with the kitchen addition, but the stairs are still there. And inside that small "room" there are chalk-type writings and drawings all over the wall. Mostly names. But it's creepy. Very creepy. I guess because the room is so tiny, not even a room, but just concrete steps to the outside, covered over. It makes me feel like someone was trapped in there or something. I always say I want to paint over the names, but it's such a non-room, it's not worth the time/energy. But it's weird.

Ok, back to the good stories, please :)

    Bookmark   May 6, 2011 at 8:46PM
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Home4all6 - could your house have been part of the Underground Railroad and the names belong to slaves?

    Bookmark   May 6, 2011 at 9:54PM
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When I moved into this house and was having the siding replaced (pink aluminum) my contractor found the advertising sign from the original builder in 1954. On the back of it was the layout of the house which wasn't really accurate, but close. I told him he should put up another sign of his own that said, 'Fixed the mess you made 2008.' The original owner of this house was 104 when she passed away. She never allowed any updates at all..Right down to the pink stove and cooktop and aqua countertops... I had a nightmare to fix. : )

    Bookmark   May 6, 2011 at 10:27PM
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i am so glad you posted this! i just came in from the kitchen construction zone where i was thinking about this very topic! demo is done and rough electric and plumbing are underway. i will put together my time capsule this weekend so it can go in while the insulation goes in.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2011 at 10:29PM
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I have goose bumps all over reading this. It absolutely never occurred to me to do such a thing. I treasure the occasional old find I come across; why would it never occur to me to *introduce* information to the future?

DH's family has a lot of neglected treasures of the past; the family was once quite well-off but not since the depression. In a family house in a giant old German-type wardrobe amongst ancient family photos is an envelope, sealed, with written instructions not to open before 1900. It still hasn't been opened to my knowledge. I don't think anyone has the stomach to, frankly. It's not my family, so perhaps it doesn't matter that I haven't. But by now the mystery is codified; I can't imagine circumstances that would cause anyone to break the spell. Actually, I think I am the only one who remembers it's even there. In some ways it's actually really, really sad. Everyone has forebears, but there's something hollow about a link disconnected from living memory. It's like someone reached out a hand but it got dropped and now it's too far away to grasp any longer.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2011 at 4:30AM
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I have a 1927 spanish cottage that had been left quite intact until I came in. When we did the bathroom remodel, we found a set of razors behind the medicine cabinet. I noticed a slot in the back of it which must have been made so the razors could be filed in behind the cabinet and remain there. They're dated back to the 30s! I also found a beautiful glass vase with art deco lines way in the rear corner of one of the original built in cabinets in the dinette. So lovely. It's got a stamp at the bottom and is made in the USA. And many other little treasures from our huge backyard as we landscape- a sterling silver spoon from the 20's, some marble mosaic tiles that match the original bathroom floor tiles and a small mother of pearl rusty switchblade. I'm putting in pics and my changes to the house in a bottle up in the attic for the next owners whoever they may be!

    Bookmark   May 7, 2011 at 4:37AM
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I did the same thing as cat_mom - On the floor of the great room (I think it was the great room) twelve years ago, when our house was being built, I wrote on the plywood sub-floor... something probably with a heart and my husband's and my name. I also took a sharpie to a basement wall before we finished it and wrote our names there, as well.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2011 at 9:26AM
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When we opened one of the walls in our 1941 home, we found that the insides were covered in newspaper. It was really interesting to read the papers. My husband saved some of them.

When we took down the wall cabinets in the kitchen, we found the name of the PO's son and the date 1985 written on the wall. DH said, "Who remodels a kitchen in 1985 and puts in a 24" apartment stove and still NO dishwasher?" I think, up to that point, he believed the kitchen was a 70s makeover. Ha!

When DH was framing the upstairs bath, he cut his thumb, so he put a bloody thumb print on one of the studs with the date. LOL. We also wrote a couple Bible verses on the wall behind one of the cabinets in the kitchen.

I was going to put some "before" photos, a note, and a photo of our kids in a freezer bag to put in between the studs, but DH closed the wall before I got my act together. Maybe I will put it in the basement walls instead. ;^)

    Bookmark   May 7, 2011 at 12:22PM
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A beer can or two behind the tile in the shower. Don't know if it was intentional or they were very thirsty!

    Bookmark   May 9, 2011 at 6:36AM
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Our home was built in 1967, we've found items that had to been "dropped" when the house was built. We found a Hotwheels car behind some drywall. An Old Maid card under original flooring. Several coins. A invoice/count sheet for the original count for our hardwood flooring, dated March 1967 (why did everyone have such beautiful handwriting back then?). We found an empty pack of cigarettes behind drywall.

It's interesting for sure. We didn't leave any "time capsules" of sorts, but we plan on doing quite a bit more, so we may do so!

    Bookmark   May 15, 2011 at 7:54PM
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When my neighbor, who is African-American, removed the soffits in her kitchen remodel, she found a decades-old letter that had somehow gotten up there. It was apparently to one of the former owners, and the writer talked about problems with her domestic help, "the colored girl," and it included comments that would be considered quite bigoted today. It was an interesting reminder of how much times have changed - we hope.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2011 at 8:06PM
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