Remodeling Update: Historical Treasures!

Our house was built in 1898, long before the types of house insulation that are popular today were invented. When my husband did the demo of our 3rd floor, he found a bunch of old magazines that were used as insulation in the walls. How well do you think these papers hold up against a Minnesota winter? No wonder our heating bills have been so high all these years! 009 And look at all fun treasures he found underneath the floorboards:   001 Did you notice the pin-up girl playing card? Or the Licorice candy cigarettes?  How about the advertisement for the Daisy air rifle? There were also lots of old candy wrappers (Stark bars, anyone?), a ton of marbles and even an old lighter (the small metal tube underneath the Daisy ad). And my favorite, the tag from a germicidally treated mattress…. Mattress tag Don’t you wonder what lovely chemicals they treated that mattress with? Wonder if they are any better or worse than the flame retardants they put in mattresses today? Have you ever found any cool artifacts in your house? Did you keep them or put them back? (We’re planning to put ours back in a box under the new floorboards!)


  1. Cool stuff! We found a ton of marbles, some trolley tokens, a Look Magazine, beer cans, a 1903 nickel and a bunch of pictures. We handed them off to the buyers when we sold our house, along with a typed summary of the stories we’d heard from an old codger who’d grown up in the house in the ’30s and ’40s. I had to duke it out with Jeff over whether to leave the yardsticks that always hung in the basement stairs (we did),

    Ask me sometime about the photo of the maiden aunts.

  2. Green Bean says:

    What a cool bit of history!

  3. Micaela, how cool! Our house was built in ’39 and we had newspaper insulation in one part of the house too!!

    You should write a longer story for a magazine!!

  4. As you can imagine, Mike’s had the opportunity to find lots of interesting stuff — coins, newspapers, chewing tobacco tins. We found the family silver collection in our tub access when we moved into this house. (Returned to the family.) Most interesting was a small handgun — not loaded — dating from the 1890s. Would really like to know the story behind that one!

  5. Ok those are way cool! Friends of ours found some really damaged newspapers in their 1901 MN farmhouse walls when they tore down the lath and plaster as well. You found much more interesting things!!

  6. I can’t believe all the stuff that was under the floorboards. So cool. Do I see some monopoly money? My dad lives in an old house and when he renovated they found a gun hidden in the walls. They turned it over to the police and never uncovered the back story. We were left to make up our own……

  7. Alicia@ eco friendly homemaking says:

    Wow what great finds!! You never know what treasures you will find in older homes!!

  8. Maria – how fun that you found old stuff in your house too! I wish we had more stories about our house – the woman we bought it from is no longer alive though. And yes, I want to hear all about the maiden aunts!

  9. Sara,
    Seriously – you found a collection of silver? Now that’s an amazing find! Someone on my Facebook page mentioned finding an old bank bag with $10,000 in it. Hmmm…makes me want to keep digging around in our walls….

  10. Sounds like guns are a pretty common find in old houses. But why would someone seal them up in the walls?

  11. Alex found a bra when he demo’d his attic! And many other interesting treasures…

  12. I’d be tempted to frame the treasures in a shadowbox and hang them on the wall. The next owners of your house may not be as interested in finding them under the floorboards as you are.

  13. Taylor Alt-Mama says:

    Wow! How fantastic. I love the pinup playing card and the marbles, and the mattress tag just cracked me up. Seconding Condo Blues’ shadow-box idea, though it also occurred to me that you could create a time capsule for the next generation of inhabitants to discover, including several of these amazing found items and then some mementos from family life a la 2011.

    Thanks for sharing your discoveries!

    Taylor Alt-Mama

  14. Those are some cool finds-I especially like the mattress tag. It’s amazing how culture changes over time.

    Although I haven’t found anything cool, I have some friends that restored an old farmhouse about 15 years ago. They intentionally implanted “gifts” in the walls for whomever may do work on the house in the future.

    They went with some newspapers to show the date, pictures and notes about their family, and some decent scotch. I always liked that idea.

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