Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Old House Mystery - Part 2 - Sometimes it Gets Scary Around Here!!

So.....let me start with the scary part of the mystery.

We needed to have lights in the living room.  It made me crazy that there was no switch when you came into the room (not to mention it's a building code violation).  Talk about a dark room - particularly in a Maine winter when it gets dark really early!

So, I came up with a design for sconces up over the mantle.  I drew it in, with the sconces that I picked out to scale.  My wonderful electricians knew it would be a bit of a challenge - lots of wires needed to be fished in - but they were up for it.

And then they started cutting holes.  That's when it got exciting in a scary way.  Because as they started, they found old electrical boxes for sconces!!  And they were live wires, that had simply been embedded behind drywall!!  Good grief!!!   Live wires, buried behind the wall.  And to make it worse, they had stuffed the boxes with newspaper.

Geezzz......thankfully it never started a fire over the years and no one got shocked as they cut into them.  We pulled out the newspaper and discovered the boxes were covered up in 1942.  Wow - 76 years ago.

And here's the mystery.  The City says the house was built in 1938.  The mercury head dime we found over the kitchen doorway was 1943 (supposedly a tradition to mark when a house is built).  And now we found these sconces were covered up in 1942.  When was this house built???

I need to get to the Registrar of Deeds to do some digging!  Hopefully I can figure it out soon.

Oh, and by the way, the sconces I came up with were in almost the exact location as the originals!!!  Classic design And since the electrical was already in place, we're going to use their placement!!

And on the good news side, electrical rough in is complete and we're almost finishing up plumbing.  Woo hoo!  Lots of progress!

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  1. Love a mystery and will look forward hearing when the house was built. Also love that the sconces will be returning to their original spot and how serendipitous was that!

    1. Isn't it fantastic??? Oddly enough, this is the second time this has happened to us. We had a 1920's Arts & Crafts home many years ago that had sconce wiring behind bland, boring paneling. I guess when people 'modernized', that didn't like the look!!!

  2. We had the same thing happen to us when we were installing a kitchen exhaust fan in our circa 1963 house. There was no pre-existing fan so our installer was cutting the opening, etc. and wah-la, discovered a hot wire that had been left uncapped behind the wall. Very convenient since he didn't have to run new wire but scary. Who knows how long it had been that way since we bought the house in 1996.

  3. Covering scones must have been a popular way to "modernize". I own a 1923 bungalow and when we re-wired we discovered the same thing! I am thinking they didn't really install ceiling light in the 1920's. Every bedroom, the dining room and living room had several sconces plastered over! Some still had live wires some didn't. Like you said it is a miracle that these old house don't burn down!

    1. Ha ha - you're probably right, a modern approach! But sconces are so charming!


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