'Treasure Trove of Artifacts' Found Behind Old Fireplace Mantel - ViralHog
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'Treasure Trove of Artifacts' Found Behind Old Fireplace Mantel

Occurred on March 28, 2022 / Smiths Falls, Ontario, Canada

Info from Licensor: "In the fall of 2018 my wife, Marion, and I moved from Montreal—population a lot of people to Smiths Falls, Ontario—population 9,000. We had been looking for a historic home to restore and we found it, or rather it found us. It was the last house on our list of possibilities due to a real estate listing containing photos of hideous wall-to-wall carpeting and the fact that it had been abandoned for years. The Keyhole House was built in 1893, had its original bones intact, and boasted seven bedrooms and two bathrooms. Entering through the Moorish arch is almost like crossing the threshold into another world. Massive but ornate moulding, surrounding the doorways and baseboards, are thirteen inches high. Breathtaking stained-glass panels highlight the front hall. The architecture and craftmanship are incredible. During the home inspection, we discovered something which made us suspect that the house had chosen us as its custodians. In the attic, nestled amongst some bat droppings and a bird’s nest, we found a 1946 edition of the Star Weekly. The headline read: 'Dance, Little Ladies.' My wife Marion has toured the world as a professional dancer, so we considered this to be a warm welcome. Although we were preapproved for a mortgage the bank did not agree with our optimistic restoration plans. Even our home inspector asked us repeatedly if we still wanted to buy the house as he explained the work and cost of repairs involved. We bought the neglected but spectacular, seven-bedroom, two-bathroom house for $220,000.
Our gratitude for the privilege of living in this eclectic mix of architectural movements has not faded. We love the Romanesque architecture, the Italianate brackets on the frieze above the second-story windows, the Queen Anne Revival style porch, and the Frank Lloyd Wright Prairie Style-inspired stained glass. The house creaks and groans and lulls us to sleep every night. The house has a spirit, and it likes us.
The Keyhole House is a keeper of secrets and a witness to history. It has many stories to tell if you are willing to listen. Some of the creators who built this grand Victorian home left a note wedged in a door jamb. It fell on the floor while a door frame was being removed. The brittle scrap of paper is dated June 1892 and reads 'This day for God and Queen have we pledged ourselves to live a life of soberness and love.' The note is signed by Benj Byram, Joe Boynton, and Bill Rogers, three members of the team of carpenters who built the house. During the dining room restoration, a golf ball (circa 1918) was found which led to the discovery that from 1899 until 1930 the Poonahmalee Golf Club was located across the street. An international media frenzy was the result.
The fireplace in the parlor is known as Adam Style, Adamesque, or Style of the Brothers Adam. It is an 18th-century neoclassical style of interior design and architecture practiced by Scottish architect William Adam and his sons. The mantel is attached to the wall with two screws, and we have been anxious to remove it in the hopes of finding some historical artifacts hidden behind it. We were not disappointed. After much coaxing the two ancient screws were removed. The mantel was tilted forward, and an abundance of history was revealed! Highlights include a Christmas card from 1937 addressed to Mr. and Mrs. John Briggs, (John Briggs died the following year in the house) rolling paper with tax stamps from 1934, a multitude of skeleton keys including one which operates the original cast-iron rim lock on the master bedroom door, photos of an unidentified older couple and another of a young woman dressed in 1930s attire, and a Dick Brodowski baseball card from 1953 worth about $40. Reginald Burroughs was a prospector who lived at the Keyhole House 100 years ago with his wife Augusta and their two children. He signed his name in the concrete of two basement windowsills. His three-digit phone number can still be found in a 1918 Telephone Directory. It was 218. During the dining room restoration, a golf ball was discovered in the wall which likely belonged to him. I finally met him face to face when I removed the fireplace mantel and found a brittle, curled photo of Reginald Burroughs in his WWI uniform."
Location Smiths Falls, Ontario, Canada
Occurred not known
Posted By Ted Outerbridge
Posted On Apr-1-2022