Mystery Compartment in the Floor?????

Questions and answers relating to houses built in the 1800s and before.

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SignPainter
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Re: Mystery Compartment in the Floor?????

Post by SignPainter »

The shape of the cutout is curious and so I would think that the shape is connected to the purpose of the cutout. This shape would be harder to support below. Would you cutout that shape in order to stash valuables? Seems unlikely. Nice mystery but Im sure there are other priorities in the house.
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Tom and Jada
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Re: Mystery Compartment in the Floor?????

Post by Tom and Jada »

Since it's a mid-1800s house, it was probably done when the house was electrified to run wires. I've also seen a few similar cutouts in houses that originally had gas lighting. Might have been to access gas line fittings, but wires would be my first guess.
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mross_pitt
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Re: Mystery Compartment in the Floor?????

Post by mross_pitt »

I also thought the shape of the cutout to be unusual.

Why would you cut out an odd shape? It's not less noticeable, not less work, it is harder to support once completed, and in fact, there are at least 2 boards that actually end right nearby... those could have been cut into shorter pieces, and then this hole wouldn't be noticeable at all.

It's certainly not practical to hide anything under there. That patch screams "look at me". Maybe somebody getting paid by the hour 100+ years ago?

lupinfarm
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Re: Mystery Compartment in the Floor?????

Post by lupinfarm »

Please, Please, please lift it up and put me out of my misery. :)
putting the 18 back in my 1872 Victorian farmhouse.

db1787
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Re: Mystery Compartment in the Floor?????

Post by db1787 »

I have a similar square floor patch in the floor above my dining room light fixture. Although I did not lift the patch, it is certainly from when the electricity was run.

In the 1787 section of the house, in the 2nd floor master bedroom, a small 2' by 4" patch board was loose and dropped slightly. I pulled it up a couple days ago and while there was no cash stash, there was about 4" of dirt including small rocks, brick bits, etc. as far as I could see looking in the hole back under the floorboards. Does anyone know why someone would purposefully put this much dirt between floors (on the 2nd floor, above a plaster/lathe ceiling)?

I cut a piece of screen (screen door type for size of holes) and used a 5 gallon bucket to sift out the dirt from the bigger bits and went through about a 5 gallon bucket's worth of dirt just in space directly under where the board was. I now have over half a bucket of fine grained dirt, and about the same of bigger bits. I certainly could reach enough dirt to fill up another bucket or two (5 gallon). My floor is original, but tongue and groove, no gaps exist down which the larger pebbles/brick bits could fall. 225 years is a long time for dirt to accumulate, but I just can't see how the dirt could have gotten there unless on purpose... Any ideas? Has anyone else found something similar in their house?

I spent most of the afternoon on an indoor archeology project. I found a mummified mouse, some mouse and bird bones, a 1964 penny (not exactly a cache), a very old 3-pronged buckle, old nails, old brass pins, beads, a marble, tiny mouse-chewed newspaper fragments, old cloth fragments, glass bits, etc.

steponmebbbboom
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Re: Mystery Compartment in the Floor?????

Post by steponmebbbboom »

I recently found an old compartment in the second floor of an 1870s farmhouse near the plaster ceiling medallion of the first-floor dining room below it.
I pried it open as it was very close to the area where I was working (house was being demolished and I was salvaging the medallion to install in my own home later)
Inside I found a length of aircraft cable with loops on either end. Very odd as the medallion below was never electrified and there was no pulley system or similar contraption to acommodate said cable.
I guess I will never know what the compartment or cable was for, but I still have the beautiful 24" medallion and will soon have it in my living room.
Mainwaring House 1911
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lupinfarm
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Re: Mystery Compartment in the Floor?????

Post by lupinfarm »

I had a few pieces of flooring that were loose in my bedroom upstairs and pulled them up to find a whole heap of sand and
other debris, very fine dress makers pins, coins and playing cards from the 1950s. I asked a friend about the sand and was
told that the Victorians used sand to clean the floor with. I know the Mennonites use sand to clean their porches around here.
So I guess she may have been right. The other thing is my walls are filled with lime mortar/ rocks animal blood and hair mix, which back in the 1870s was used to keep the drafts out.
putting the 18 back in my 1872 Victorian farmhouse.

nezwick
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Re: Mystery Compartment in the Floor?????

Post by nezwick »

Animal BLOOD!?!??!??!
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steponmebbbboom
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Re: Mystery Compartment in the Floor?????

Post by steponmebbbboom »

lol. Search youtube for the word "blood" theres a vid with about 38M views with a little kid that post reminded me of.
Mainwaring House 1911
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Texas_Ranger
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Re: Mystery Compartment in the Floor?????

Post by Texas_Ranger »

In the 1787 section of the house, in the 2nd floor master bedroom, a small 2' by 4" patch board was loose and dropped slightly. I pulled it up a couple days ago and while there was no cash stash, there was about 4" of dirt including small rocks, brick bits, etc. as far as I could see looking in the hole back under the floorboards. Does anyone know why someone would purposefully put this much dirt between floors (on the 2nd floor, above a plaster/lathe ceiling)?
Sound deadening I guess. Adding a heavy layer to the floor prevents the structure from vibrating and transmitting the sound of footsteps, at least to some extent. The dirt probably does not rest on top of the lath but rather on a false floor a few inches above the lath. This practice was rather common in many European countries and I've always wondered why it never caught on in the US with so much immigration back in the 18th and 19th centuries.

We're having a huge issue with said dirt fill here right now, as it's thoroughly drenched with water from the helpful FD that put out a fire 2 floors above.
The bad thing with electricity : it almost always works.

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