Katy Elliott

A daily design journal about new england life, home decorating resources, and renovating a 257-year-old house in Marblehead, MA.

What’s Behind That Wall?

Posted on | June 2, 2011 | 32 Comments

Yesterday I discovered a few new things in some old files at Abbot Hall. In a document from a file recorded by the M’Head Hist Dist Comm dated November 20, 1978, the house is dated as c 1720. Other documents have dated it to 1750. On the back of this form the statement includes:

Public stories and private rumors have collected about this house. Caption James Mugford set up housekeeping here with his bride, Sally Griest. After his death, Sally married Martin and moved to her parents’ house. I was always told that when the fireplaces were blocked up, all the 18th century cooking equipment and andirons were sealed inside.

Greg and I are wondering if this is the fireplace the document is referencing? We’re 99% sure we have a fireplace behind this wall. Our chimney has four flues and we only have three open fireplaces. On the second floor of the house the fireplaces are matchbook. So if we pull down this wall will we find 18th century cooking equipment and andirons sealed inside? Makes you want to rip it down right this second to find out, right?

Related Posts:
Old Slides Of House and Mugford Street
Three Fireplaces and Mantels
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32 Responses to “What’s Behind That Wall?”

  1. kate
    June 2nd, 2011 @ 11:42 am

    omg, that’s so exciting! can’t wait to see what you find!


  2. Erica
    June 2nd, 2011 @ 11:42 am

    I’m sooooo curious about the sealed up fp and the possibility of historical stuff. I’d be going all Nancy Drew on that wall, listening with a glass, etc. I found a mysterious crawl space in my house, but there was nothing in it but bend lead pipes.


  3. mopar
    June 2nd, 2011 @ 11:43 am

    Oooh I love old house mysteries! This is like something out of a book!


  4. mary
    June 2nd, 2011 @ 11:46 am

    OMG – do it! My husband would be going berserk. We were told that there was a 4th fireplace behind one of the walls in our living room, and he went looking for it. :) (Had to close it back up, though – was in really, really bad shape. But we DID find an old bird skeleton. Yay!)


  5. Katy Elliott
    June 2nd, 2011 @ 11:47 am

    So we could rip it down this weekend? We use the room currently to store woods, supplies, and our saw. So it doesn’t really matter if it becomes a bigger mess!


  6. kiki
    June 2nd, 2011 @ 11:49 am

    oh so exciting!! love the mystery. could you rent a metal detector to see if you get any ‘pings’ behind the wall where there ‘shouldn’t’ be metallic objects?? i want you to just rip it down too!! ;) keep us posted!!


  7. Steve
    June 2nd, 2011 @ 11:54 am

    OMG, a cliffhanger! What are waiting for?

    And what is that color on the wall? It’s gorgeous!


  8. Katy Elliott
    June 2nd, 2011 @ 11:59 am

    We own a metal detector? Has greg checked it before? Hmm he’s out to lunch right now!

    Not sure of the wall color, came with the house but it looks like Benjamin Moore color.


  9. chelsea
    June 2nd, 2011 @ 12:07 pm

    Do it! This is so exciting!!!


  10. My Dog-Eared Pages
    June 2nd, 2011 @ 12:11 pm

    Katy, This is so exciting! Go for it!! Our West Newbury house was 1720 as well. My nickname is Boo and when we moved in to the house, wrapped in newspaper inside the barn on an old beam was a brass ships bell. It was engraved with: “The Boo Bell” – quite amazing, isn’t it! I can’t wait to see what you discover! ; )


  11. Diana Davis
    June 2nd, 2011 @ 12:50 pm

    No way could I NOT tear that wall down! I’d at least have to put a hole in it and have a look!


  12. Caroline
    June 2nd, 2011 @ 12:54 pm

    Do it!!! knock it down, or do the sensible thing and make a small hole and have a peek. Either way, we are all waiting for an update ….


  13. Katy Elliott
    June 2nd, 2011 @ 12:57 pm

    Works starts for me in t-minus 4 minutes. We’ll have to wait till tonight or the weekend.

    Everyone will have to live in suspense till then! Ha!


  14. Mae @ Here in This House
    June 2nd, 2011 @ 1:14 pm

    OMG you mustmustmust! i can’t wait to hear!! how exciting! take video and capture your reactions! (whether it be happiness or disappointment!) ooo… i can’t wait!!


  15. virginia
    June 2nd, 2011 @ 1:25 pm

    What? You haven’t taken a sledgehammer and sawzall to it yet???!!!!! I guess you could drill a hole and look if you don’t want to replaster. Xray it, Maybe?
    Just hurry up and do it, The suspense is killing meJJJ


  16. Katie
    June 2nd, 2011 @ 2:21 pm

    That would be so cool to find a fireplace full of 18th century cooking equipment! I think it’s cool just to find all these things out. It’s my favorite thing about old houses….learning the history and it’s secrets!


  17. Leah
    June 2nd, 2011 @ 2:46 pm

    SO COOL! Can’t wait to see what you find.


  18. Laurie
    June 2nd, 2011 @ 2:50 pm

    My house is 1792, in Maine. That is the oldest part of the house. The rest is about 15 years later. I find all sorts of things in the garden – last one was an old key. My barn is going to be taken down and rebuilt – hope to find all sorts of fun things in and around it! Can’t wait to find out the secret behind your wall!


  19. Susan
    June 2nd, 2011 @ 4:47 pm

    Oh wow, yes! Can I be there to witness the unveiling?! ;)


  20. Katy Elliott
    June 2nd, 2011 @ 4:51 pm

    We may take Mae’s suggestion and shoot a video. Could be really awesome or totally disappointing!


  21. Renee
    June 2nd, 2011 @ 4:53 pm

    You know you have to! We expanded our kitchen and found a secret door, but it wasn’t that exciting.


  22. Katy Elliott
    June 2nd, 2011 @ 4:55 pm

    Already found a secret door! http://www.katyelliott.com/blog/2010/11/beverly-jog.html

    Just around the corner from this photo!


  23. nanne
    June 2nd, 2011 @ 5:32 pm

    summer is all about being a kid—mysteries and secret panels & doors only make it better.

    enjoy your nancy drew summer & keep your readers updated!!

    nanne in indiana by way of alabama


  24. Anne
    June 2nd, 2011 @ 5:58 pm

    I’ve been following your blog but this is my first comment (I live in Cambridge). This is very exciting! And your reader’s story about “The Boo Bell” is amazing!


  25. Katy Elliott
    June 2nd, 2011 @ 6:04 pm

    oh gosh I forgot to comment, yes Anne!

    My Dog-Eared Pages “The Boo Bell” story is amazing. That house was meant for you! Very cool!


  26. Josephine
    June 2nd, 2011 @ 10:03 pm

    How romantic, your house is almost 300 years old! I can’t wait to see what you find behind wall!


  27. Seb@Palm Tree Art
    June 2nd, 2011 @ 10:25 pm

    I have just discovered your blog. It’s great and what a great story. Fantastic house, look for gold!!!


  28. Kathy
    June 3rd, 2011 @ 8:54 am

    How cool! You are going to do it, right? It’s not a question of if but when?! If you’re on the fence, I say go for it! :)


  29. Emily
    June 3rd, 2011 @ 10:50 pm

    I second the video comment! I don’t know how you didn’t just take a crowbar (delicately) to that wall the minute you read that! I wouldn’t have been able to resist.


  30. Olga
    June 4th, 2011 @ 3:14 pm

    OMG get the sledgehammer already! hurry! What if you find some old bones and a ghost? Why would someone seal the fireplace with all the cooking stuff? Something is fishy… someone must have done something awfully bad and the evidence is hidden in this wall… Or maybe there is treasure? Gold bars and gold coins (and a ghost guarding them)?
    I can go on with ideas forever, so hurry we must learn the truth! (LOL)


  31. Nicole @bklyncontessa
    June 10th, 2011 @ 3:06 pm

    oh you must! the tin ceiling can be easily be preserved and who cares about a little mess … you could uncover something really awesome besides you know like 5 years from now when you have a little baby and everything is finished you’re sooooo going to wish you had done it.


  32. Richard
    March 31st, 2012 @ 3:05 pm


    There’s definitely a fireplace (or remains of said) behind that wall. Only one need do is look at the undulation to the patching of the plaster. And if my eyes don’t deceive me that’s a closed up stove pipe hole one third of the way down from the ceiling and toward the open door.

    Did you open this wall. What was discovered??

    I commend you to the nth degree for keeping this chronicle of your work. Well done.

    (I beg you to remove the tin ceiling…. )

    Best, Richard


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