1902 Victorian

Bringing our old house out of the disco era and back into the Victorian.

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Thursday, February 23, 2006

All I Need is Titian Hair

Our attic is an endless fount of delights. Last weekend, we finally took the last of the Christmas decorations up there, and for once I remembered to bring a flashlight. I've been meaning to investigate a heap of wood in the corner for a while now.

Actually, I made Darwin investigate it. He's not afraid to hop from board to board, while I am paranoid even on the floored parts.

We spent probably 20 minutes up there (freezing half to death, by the way), and in that short time we found way more than we bargained for.

I suspected the wood lying in the shadows was part of a mantel taken down at some point. Turns out it is ... and it's painted seafoam green.

Yech. Still, very cool. But, we wondered, where did it come from? We suspected the guest bedroom, since the mantel in there is very plain and doesn't match the others in the house.

Soon the mystery would be solved. While Darwin was hopping around investigating some extra pieces of beadboard, he noticed a cardboard box with a plastic bag poking out of the top.

"Hmm, I've never looked in this box," he said. I watched him open the flaps, not expecting much. Probably more 1980s newspapers or maybe some trash.

"It's just some mortar from when they concreted the bathroom," he said.

I shrugged. No big deal, like I thought.

But wait! What's that nestled down in the plastic? Why, it's a hunk of majolica tile!

Darwin brought the box over to more stable ground, so we could get a better look. On top of the plastic bag of cement stuff were a few tiles, some a mottled dark green that looked familiar and some bright turquoise like the dining room fireplace tiles, which is odd since none of those tiles are missing.

We took them out, dusted them off. Admired them. Wow! Darwin assumed that underneath the tiles the little box was full of concrete stuff. No need to look farther. But I was pinballing around, giggling like a crazy person, and I said, "Check, check, you have to check!"

He pulled out the plastic bag, and I gasped. Such a wonderful sight! The box was half full of tiles! Lovely, lovely, wonderful tiles! Original tiles!

Because by now I'd remembered where I'd seen that color tile before ... the living room fireplace is missing its tile surround, but the hearth is still tiled - in this color!

So now we knew their origin. Many of the tiles were broken, but most were whole, and as we fished out each whole one and dusted it off on our pants, I noticed something more. On the edges of some was seafoam green paint! Now we knew the origin of the mantel top, too.

Why anyone would combine seafoam green paint with moss green tiles is beyond me, but that was clearly the case. Also, why anyone would REMOVE the mantel and tiles is beyond me, but at least they saved it all. Thank you, thank you, thank you, Previous Owners!

We still don't know where the turquoise tiles came from - maybe the guest bedroom? It's the only room left in the house without a surround, but the turquoise tiles are nearly all broken and all in terrible shape. Plus, there aren't very many of them. I don't know what happened there.

As for the mantel top, we found filled holes on the current top of the living room mantel that correspond with it. There are no similar holes on the matching dining room fireplace, though. Maybe only the living room had an overmantel?

As usual, with every question you answer, a new one pops up. But that's okay. The mystery is half the fun. I always wanted to be Nancy Drew.



C&C said...

Wow, what a neat discovery! I guess you will be busy soon tiling the surround? Can't wait to see pictures.

2:54 PM  
Greg said...

What a great find!!! I climbed all over my house like a monkey when I first bought it hoping to find treasures like this. I got nothin’.

The broken tiles are probably broken on purpose. As the tiles went up the left and right side of the fire box they would have been in a running bond pattern. Each row would be made up of a half and a whole tile. First the half tile on the left and then the half tile on the right, and so on, creating the running bond.

3:46 PM  
mindy said...

Wow, that's so cool! I'm jealous - we haven't found anything cool like that. Those are truly beautiful finds.

6:54 PM  
Lenise said...

That is very cool. I'm afraid to go poking around in our crawlspace or attic myself, and neither one is actually big enough to stand up in, anyway. Besides, our house is a very modest one, so I doubt there was ever much in the way of cool architectural detail to be recovered. Oh well.

9:12 AM  
Beth said...

That is just plain good fun right there.

11:14 AM  
Kristin said...

Hee hee heeeee, I'm still giddy over it! :)

Thanks for the tip on the "broken" tiles, Greg. I'll have to investigate more closely.

12:35 PM  
Sheila said...

Congrats on an awesome discovery!

I feel so ripped off. All we found in the attic of our 1892 home were loads of styrofoam peanuts. Sad but true.

6:20 PM  
kelly your sister said...

Oh my I bet you nearly rubbed your hands raw with all that excitement. :) I haven't read this blog in a long time and am trying to catch up on the progress with your house.

11:20 PM  

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