I thought it was time to round up the objects we found in our den on the second floor. We found most of the objects when we removed the ceiling because of water damage. This past spring we replaced it, see here.
In the ceiling we found fabric, tools and shoes. While we were stripping the paint off the molding we discovered an old cigar and hair pins in the cavity between the old and new mantel piece. We believe the mantel was originally two fields and then a decorative mantel was later attached.
It’s really common to find objects like this in older homes in New England. An old folklore of hiding shoes in the walls was thought to ward off evil and bring good luck. “Concealment shoes” are so common that the The Northampton (UK) Museum maintains an international index.
About half the shoes registered in the concealment index are children’s shoes. Women’s shoes are more common than men’s. Shoes are almost invariably well worn, perhaps because the donor didn’t want to waste an expensive new shoe on the project, or perhaps because a well-worn shoe is more likely to retain the shape of the wearer’s foot and hence his spirit. Though shoes are the common denominator, more than two hundred different personal possessions–coins, spoons, pots, goblets, food, knives, toys, gloves, pipes, even chicken and cat bones–have been found hidden with them. (Wayland Historic Society)
Many preservationist suggest putting the shoes back after repairs are completed. I’m planning on creating shadow boxes of all the objects for each room in the house. This way the objects will stay with the house but we can also enjoy them.
In this room we also removed hundred layers of paint and wallpaper off the walls. We found two wallpapers—a floral and an older piece was a stripe. The wallpaper was scattered around the room and the largest area was near a window but was badly damaged (see below).
Above and below objects we found in the room with a photo of where we discovered each collection.
We found the leather, tools, fabric and a pack of Lucky Strike cigarettes on the left side of the room near the chimney below the lathe.
A “concealed shoe” and fabric found together.
Objects we found in the cavity between the new mantel and base.