Thursday, June 5, 2008

Hidden Treasure

I've been stripping wallpaper (again) from one of the upstairs bedrooms, and half-jokingly lamenting the work. While it is in fact a pain in the neck to strip wallpaper, the fun part is creating a fresh new look for the room that really brightens it up and makes it a room you're pleased to walk into.

In all the rooms in this house that I've done this (3 others) there was always a surprise underneath the wallpaper. The family that owned this house for 125+ years (from the time it was built until 2001) left little notes on the bare walls, before they papered over them. (Other than the bathrooms, there wasn't a single wall in this house with paint on it, until I moved in. Two bedrooms and the laundry room are now painted, and the third bedroom is going to follow suit very soon!) They generally include the name of the family and the date the wall was papered. It's been fun to find those little notes, especially the ones written by children, so many years ago.

Last evening while working on the walls, my 9 yr old asked me if I'd found any notes yet - assuming I was going to. I told her no, but if I did she'd be the first to know. Not long after that she went to bed and lo and behold, the very next panel I stripped off revealed handwriting on the bare plaster!

I was so excited to find out what it said, that I ditched my plan to quit working for the night so that I could uncover it! The more I steamed, the more I realized this one was a little different. It wasn't written by the same hand as the other notes, the handwriting was much different. I continued working and thinking to myself "this wallpaper must have been on these walls for 100 years!" I recalled talking to the former owner when we moved in and him telling us that this particular room had been his when he was a little boy (he's in his 70's now), and that the wallpaper had been in there for as long he could remember. I'm sure it was just lovely in it's day, but I find it rather hideous, and this will be Rachel's room so it definitely needs to go, and be replaced with coats of bright paint! She's talking royal reds, blues and purples, but we'll see about that. I think it might be sort of pretty done in that theme, but not the whole room.

In any case, I kept working for a while just to uncover the message on the wall, and here it is:

Hidden treasure!

You'll have to zoom in (click to enlarge) to see it better, but it says

"F. Ecksten Painter & Paperhanger Tavistock, April (something!?) 1912"

I read the date of 1912 and almost fell off my ladder. I can't make out the actual date written though. Someone mentioned to me last night in chat that the Titanic disaster was April 15, 1912, but I'm not sure if that says 15, or maybe 16? Here are two closer images of the date (click to zoom in), one embossed, to make for easier reading:

can you read the date??

Now, just how cool is that?? I was close with my comment of 100 year old wallpaper. I'd sure love to know what the date is though.

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