Who knows what secrets lie beyond the walls of a home? Some are fascinating, but others lead to more questions than answers.
People on Quora reveal the startling discovery they made while looking in the walls of their home. Content has been edited for clarity.
What Are The Chances Of That?
“Over 30 years ago, a friend was restoring a Sea Captain’s home which had been built in the early 1800s on Nantucket Island. A few wooden panels of tongue and groove wainscoting in the pantry needed to be replaced. As his crew was removing the rotted wood, they found a secret compartment behind the wall, and the skinniest carpenter crawled into the space.
He screamed, ‘Hey, I think I found something!’
He was on his hands and knees, and his flashlight revealed a scroll of white paper tied off with a red ribbon amidst 200-year-old dust and cobwebs. He stuck his hand out of the wall and handed it to my friend.
We carefully untied the ribbon and unfurled the scroll on the kitchen table. The pages were oversized and faded slightly yellow, with brown spots, tattered on the left side because they had been ripped out of a book. The handwriting was very florid, meticulous, but difficult to decipher. A quill had been used, and the ink had faded. We had to read it sideways, and eventually realized the letter ‘F’ was really an ‘S.’ There were columns with numbers listed below: 20, 37, 25, 40, and next to those were what appeared to be longitude and latitudes. So what did these numbers represent? And where was the rest of the book? And why hide these papers inside a wall?
We happened to be across the street from The Whaling Museum, so I suggested we go over and show it to them to see if they had any ideas. We presented this artifact to a very austere, 80-year-old librarian with a silver bun on her head. We handed her the scroll, and she asked us to please wait. She disappeared into the back room and eventually came out clutching the papers and a large, brown leather-bound volume. We all looked at each other and crowded around her in anticipation. She opened the book in silence, and then gazed at us intensely. This was it! She took the torn pages and inserted them into the exact place where they had been removed, over a century earlier! They matched perfectly. It was remarkable.
She went on to explain, ‘This book is the whaling ship’s log, which set sail from New Bedford to the Pacific to hunt whales, from 1846 until 1850. The Capt was Elisha H. Fisher and the Owner-Agent was William Phillips. What you have found is most likely evidence of stolen cargo. These pages are an inventory of how many barrels of oil the ship got from the whales they hunted down at this particular longitude and latitude. Pirates probably overtook the vessel at some point, and stole this cargo. The Capt. did not want the Owner to know, as he would have been held responsible and would have had to repay him. So either he or the first mate probably ripped out the pages and hid the proof in the wall when they returned to Nantucket. Whaling was a very risky but lucrative business, indeed!’
What are the odds that we would have even found the scroll, let alone that the lady knew exactly which log it belonged to out of the dozens of unread logbooks they never had the resources to process? And that the missing section was only 50 feet away from the original all that time?”
One And Done
“When I was in high school, I played guitar in a few different rock/metal bands. One band attained a decent level of success (for a high school band), while the others were basically just me ‘jamming’ with some friends. This story revolves around the latter of the two.
A friend of mine had told me about a guy he knew who was looking for a guitarist to play with. My friend had said this guy was a few years older, lived in a neighboring city, and was a pretty decent drummer. My buddy was also a great drummer, and a stand-up guy, so I trusted his judgment. Uncharacteristically of me, I took the guy’s number, talked briefly with him on the phone, and decided to drive over to his house.
This was mid 90s Cleveland. I lived in a pretty middle-class suburb, about 15 minutes from downtown. He lived closer to town, in a little rougher area. I lived in a clean three-bedroom house with my family. He lived in the damp, cramped basement of his grandmother’s run-down house. Our lives were a bit different, but we both loved heavy metal, and that was enough for me.
I pulled up to his house, we shook hands, and he let me in. We entered through a side door. The entrance was a spilt level, with a small set of stairs going up to (what looks like) a very filthy kitchen. Another set lead us downstairs to a mostly unfinished basement. It was dark, damp, and smelled like mildew. It had concrete floors, low ceilings, wood-paneled walls, and some old furniture. Perfect for high school kids playing metal covers.
The basement was also really, really dusty. I saw some floodlights and a sledgehammer. I asked him what was up with the dust, and he said he was changing the layout of the basement. His grandmother said he could take down some walls to make his bedroom bigger. Cool, whatever, let’s jam. We awkwardly played through a few covers, and then riffed for about an hour. I remember it being pretty fun.
We finish playing and sat down for a break. I remember asking if I could swing the sledgehammer at the wall.
‘Go for it!’ he said. We start to take turns on this piece of drywall, opening it up more with every swing. We’re both going at it for a few minutes when he yells for me to stop. ‘What the heck is that?!’ I remember him saying. We looked down, and there we saw something laying between the sheetrock.
Remember, this is an older house. Whatever we found within the walls had probably been there for a very long time.
He leaned down and pulled it out from the mess we made. He brought it over to the coffee table, and we knelt next to it.
It was a box wrapped in a piece of dusty cloth. I remember the cloth being pale red, and having a scratchy texture. The box was wood. Old, but, not ancient. It was pretty smooth and was in decent shape. It had a simple metal latch on the front, but no lock. I remember thinking the box was pretty nice, and whoever hid it, probably did it for a good reason.
We both took turns guessing what was in the box. Based on the condition of the box, and how it was hidden, we were sure it was money. I said since I was there for the discovery, I got a cut of the riches. He laughed.
We unlatched the font-lock, and slowly opened the top cover. As we opened it up, we saw another piece of cloth. I think it was the same cloth that wrapped the box. He reached in and picked up the contents. Whatever was is in this cloth was loose and in pieces. He grabbed it with two hands and transferred it to the table. He then peeled back the cloth to reveal this great mystery.
There they were, in all their glory. Two perfectly preserved, finely crafted, amazingly smooth…
Wooden adult toys.
They were pretty big, and slightly curved. More artistic than anatomically correct. One was slightly bigger. Neither of them made any darn sense.
For some crazy reason, this guy, who I had just met, and played a bunch of heavy metal covers with, lived in a house that had two wooden adult toys living within its walls.
I never went back over there.”
He Was Right All Along
“About 25 years ago I was preparing for a full, to the studs’ kitchen remodel. Part of the remodel involved removing a load-bearing wall that separated a breakfast room from the main kitchen. In order to support the loads that would soon be transferred to the ends of the breakfast room walls, I needed to get into the crawl space under the breakfast room and beef up the foundation.
I broke through the basement wall into the sealed crawl space and the incredible can of worms hidden there for 40+ years. I knew the breakfast room was an addition and had dated it to some time in the ’50s based on the existing kitchen and a few other clues. The first thing I found was the debris from the past kitchen, literally filling the crawl space to the top of the floor joists. Tile, plaster, moldings, etc. Pretty much everything but the cabinets and appliances. I guess the contractor saved himself a few bucks on a dumpster.
As I dug out all of this junk and hauled it up the stairs in buckets, the floor joists started to come into view. With every bucket, I exposed more and more of the Rube Goldberg floor framing of the addition. When I had enough of the area cleared, it became obvious there had been a small porch on the back of the house prior to the addition, and the contractor had left the floor framing and foundation of the porch in place and scabbed joists wily nilly onto the existing porch joists to build out the floor of the addition. This fit right in with dumping the demo debris into the crawl space, so I shouldn’t have been surprised. Things obviously hadn’t lined up quite right when he did this, so there was also an incredible collection of shims and two times framing scabs all over the joists to bring some semblance of level to the floor above.
Aside from the framing disaster, I also found termites had found the debris an easy conduit to the joists and had their way with them. All of the joists had to be replaced, as well as the sill plates and the bottoms of a few of the studs. When I opened the walls in the addition, I found not one of the wall studs was the same spacing. It appeared they had just randomly nailed them to the plates where ever they felt like. There were numerous other anomalies like this throughout the project.
Throughout this fiasco, I kept loudly complaining to my wife and anyone else who would listen the contractor must have been a complete hammered idiot. It was the only possible explanation for all of the nonsense I kept finding. She would just roll her eyes and tell me to stop making excuses and get on with it. Eventually, all of the framings were complete and I moved on to the electrical work.
I needed to run some cables over part of the finished basement ceiling to feed the relocated appliances. As I started to open the area I needed to access, I heard some very strange clinking sounds every time I hit the plaster. When I finally broke through the lath in a small area I was surprised by a shower of bottles. I carefully open a larger hole and pulled out over three dozen empty bottles. The date codes on the bottles that had them were 1952. I was vindicated! He was a hammered idiot, and here was the proof.
After looking at the location of the bottles in relation to the addition, it was apparent what had happened. Mr. contractor would keep his motivation up with his libation of choice for the day but obviously didn’t want his customer to see how he got through his workday so he threw the empties into the open joist bay above the finished basement ceiling. Out of sight out of mind. Once the addition was plastered in no one would be the wiser except the poor sap who had to correct all of his folly 40 years later.”
They Didn’t Expect To See That
“It was sometime in the early ’90s, probably around 1993 or so. Since 1981, my wife and I had rented a nice three-bedroom home in a wonderful, safe neighborhood from some family friends. It was an inherited property they actually lived in only briefly. After three children joined the mix, the house took the usual beating (they were all boys). I was responsible for everything in the home, including the general upkeep and such. I could also do some basic remodeling if I desired, at my expense, of course.
The rent was cheap, I was making quite a good living, and we soon became entrenched in the home for the long haul. After receiving a large bonus that year, we decided it was time to remodel the kitchen. All new cabinets, ceramic flooring, the works. It was a decent-sized kitchen with plenty of wall space for cabinetry. I had developed a knack for cooking, so I wanted it to be well suited for my weekend culinary ventures. I allocated around $25,000 for the project.
My father-in-law was a building contractor. Getting quality, dependable labor, and wholesale pricing for materials was a nice benefit as well. Soon the time came for the actual tear out. The carpenters were well known to my father-in-law and were considered friends. Aside from the normal moving of the kitchen and its accumulated wealth of do-dads stuffed into cabinets over time, it emptied out quite easily. We now had a combination living room kitchen for a few weeks. It did make getting another drink easier, though. And, the cat loved it.
As usual, I departed for work on that sunny Tuesday summer morning. The carpenters were scheduled to rip out the existing cabinetry in preparation for installing the new wood ones that had been delivered the week before.
To the left of the existing double sink cabinet, in the corner, was a rather large lazy Susan cabinet. They began tearing out the wall and floor units, working their way past the sink, going right to left. Plumbing disconnections were made, they tore out the sink cabinet. Now, I had done some plumbing over the years under there. It seemed I somehow always wound up with a leak somewhere under there. Never quite got the urge to go to plumbing school. While under there working years before, I had noticed a small vertical slot cut out of both walls of the connecting cabinets in the upper left rear. Thinking nothing of it other than possibly an attempt to install some water line or electrical line, I ignored it. If I was on my back with a flashlight and some wrenches, that was not a pressing issue.
Out came the sink cabinet. Out came the corner lazy Susan. Plunk on the floor falls a large, thick envelope. Not surprisingly, with water damage that had seeped almost through the envelope contents about two inches from the center-right of the paper object.
The carpenters, out of curiosity, decided to look inside the envelope. Then, they called my wife into the kitchen.
The envelope was stuffed full of cash. Hundreds, fifties, twenties, and even a few tens. Genuine American currency. A good portion of it was water damaged, but not to the extent that it was unusable. A few small holes, some mold.
My secretary at work informed me my wife was on the line. I said ok and picked up the call. She told me what had transpired. I said count the cash, baby. Fifteen minutes later, it was totaled up. It was about six thousand and two hundred dollars.
It made for wonderful pocket change for a few years.”
That’s Incredibly Disturbing
“When I was in my early 20’s, I rented one side of a duplex. The duplex was once “one home’ built in the early 1920’s, that had been divided on the first floor. The side I rented was a small one-bedroom unit. My landlord was the owner of the house. I was a young and pretty blonde and he was a 50 something single, quiet, overweight, kinda strange man.
I remember first noticing something strange in the walls and ceilings while laying in bed in the dark. There was ‘light’ seemingly coming through small cracks or holes. They were too small and high up to see through. I also noticed my landlord was quite active at night. I could hear him walking around on his side of the house late at night.
One evening, I came home and peeled off my workout clothes and jumped in the shower. While showering, there were tiny pieces of white flakes falling from the ceiling on to me while showering. Just as I looked up, my landlord ‘Cliff’ fell through the ceiling into my bathroom! He scrambled up with his video camera and ran out of the house. I was left with a huge hole in the ceiling and sat wrapped in the shower curtain, completely freaked out and shaking. I called the police. They came in and crawled into the hole to find ‘Cliff’s camera equipment and some of my underwear!’ I was horrified!!!!
I had no recourse. Apparently, since ‘Cliff’ owned the home, he could do whatever he wanted in his house. He had been spying on tenants for some time I am sure. My only recourse, I was told, was moving out. I did so immediately.
I still shiver to this day 25 years later knowing he had been in my house and my underwear drawer when I was not home snooping around. Also, for over six months I lived there, how many photos or videos he had taken of me? Yuk!
No wonder the rent was so affordable.”
That’s Quite A Story
“In 2007 I was arrested for some time. Fully acquitted later, but I still spent two months behind bars. Once I met an old crook in there. He was a nice chap, as much as a criminal can be: he was not violent or particularly crooked, just didn’t believe that he should always follow laws.
He was young and worked as a truck driver when Coca-Cola first arrived to our country. He was delivering crates of Coke to retailers. There was a calculated loss on every delivery because the summer sun was hot, and the soda bottles tended to break and pop when they were overheated. He found they wouldn’t break if he cooled them with a hose. But he was not an idiot to tell the idea to the management. He sold the saved bottles instead and made a quite nice income on it.
He knew a cafeteria operator who gladly bought these saved bottles without paperwork. He didn’t always pay him money, sometimes he gave him food or the keys to a lakeside bungalow for a few days. This little business worked very well, until one morning he found the guy lying on the counter, bleeding. He was still alive, but brutally beaten. He rushed him to the hospital. He told him he was in big trouble: he borrowed some money from some criminals, but he failed to pay it back.
After he was treated in the hospital, he took him home and put him into bed. The manager then revealed it to him the money was right there in that very room, he hid it behind the wall, plus some gold. He saved the money to save his girlfriend, who was also German, a beautiful young lady, recently diagnosed with a brain tumor. This is why he scammed the criminals. But he also embezzled a lot of money from the cafeteria’s income, and hid that in the wall too. There will be serious trouble if they find that out.
A few days later, my cellmate was arrested. At the police station, he met this cafeteria manager friend, also in handcuffs. The cops questioned them about the money and the gold, which they miraculously knew about. They even went and tried to find it in the apartment, but to no avail. As it was later revealed, there was a closet in the room where they discussed this, and that only covered a door opening to the neighboring apartment. The old lady who leased the apartment to the manager was eavesdropping. She informed the police.
As they found nothing, they finally released them. They were standing on the platform at the local train station, waiting for the train to take them home. The manager was devastated and was told his girlfriend has lost her vision two days before, and she was now beyond saving. She was going to die in a few days.
The train was coming. Suddenly, the manager turned to my friend and said: ‘The money is there. The gold is there too. The cops just weren’t looking hard enough. You can take it if you wish. I have no use for it anymore.’ And suddenly he leaped under the arriving train. He was instantly killed.
The police came immediately and arrested my friend, accusing him of manslaughter. But there were a couple of witnesses and he was cleared. He never tried to find the treasure, and to his knowledge, neither the woman who owned the apartment. Probably she was convinced that it’s not there, after the cops couldn’t find it. She has also died since.
So there is a wall somewhere in my country, in a small town, which hides a ton of money and some gold.”
Finding A Bit Of History
“Last year, my kitchen was completely renovated. The realtor told me when we bought the house in 1997 the brand-new powder room off the kitchen used to be a full bathroom and that is why it was so large for a powder room. Anyway, when the wall behind the vanity was removed, it uncovered a door! Unfortunately, the door only led to a narrow utility closet. The room was kinda cool, there were shelves and all, but sadly no jars, bottles, or bags of money.
Also, there were several newspapers from December 1961 under the tile floor in the kitchen. JFK and MLK were both featured in articles on the front pages of those papers. Hubs said it was not unusual for people to use newspapers for insulation in walls and under flooring to prevent creaking.”
Must Have Been Scary For A Kid
“When I was 12, my parents, my sister, and I moved into a new home. In the closet underneath the basement stairs, there was a jar. In the jar were things that looked like brains or tongues or some other monstrosity. My 12-year-old brain reeled with possibilities.
OK. They weren’t brains. They were very pale pickled peppers.
But they very much looked like tongues. And besides, who leaves a jar of pickled peppers in the basement when they move?
By the way, two bedrooms in that house had reflective metallic wallpaper. Another bedroom had striped wallpaper – vertical on three walls and horizontal on the fourth. One room had decidedly orange carpet and decidedly pink walls.
It was a very interesting place. Luckily, my dad was in the carpet business. So the day we took possession, we stripped all of the wallpaper, painted all of the walls, and then replaced all of the carpets.
Two weeks later it was a decidedly less scary palate of beige, browns, and a rather lovely purple in my sister’s room.
But those peppers, I still shudder thinking about them!”
An Interesting Fix
“My upstairs neighbor in the apartment complex was quite a large lady. I could handle the heavy footsteps at all times during the night, but when it began to rain from my bathroom ceiling every time she ran a bath, I gave up and called the complex. The problem was they couldn’t find a problem without her in the bathtub, and of course, she wouldn’t allow them inside during bath time. I had to wait until it was raining from the ceiling, call maintenance, and have them catch her in the act of whatever it was she was doing during her bath. I didn’t have to wait long.
I came home one afternoon to a current of water coming from the ceiling. I called maintenance and they descended on her apartment. Turns out she ran an illegal daycare during the day and ‘bath time’ consisted of loading all six children under the age of five into the bath at the same time! This would cause the bathtub emergency overflow to kick in and drain into my place rather than where it was supposed to go. Maintenance came into my place, after issuing her a fine and an eviction notice for an illegal business, and tore apart my ceiling to find out why the overflow came right out into my bath. I will never forget the look on the maintenance guy’s face when he called me into the bathroom to show me what he had found….a coffee pot.
Apparently, this leak had been a problem for a previous tenant and instead of fixing the said leak, he installed his coffee pot to catch the excess water and hoped it would dry between overflowing. It worked for years, by the look of the coffee pot, until my daycare running neighbor didn’t allow time between bath overflows for the pot water to evaporate.”
They Were Able To Do A Bit Of Reading
“In the 1970s, my parents bought an old house. It was well inside the town limits by then, but had probably been built before the town was there. It was an old farmhouse. We bought it from an elderly widow who had only been living in a few rooms of the downstairs part.
Our family of five would require the use of all four upstairs bedrooms. Of course, we were going to remodel a little. That hideous wallpaper had to go (purple with flowers as I recall). Now, this house was old enough there was no drywall. Board planks were nailed to both sides of the rough-cut wall studs. As we removed the wallpaper, we found it had been applied over newspapers glued to the wall. I later learned this was a common practice way back when. It sealed the walls (air could actually blow between the wood planks) and provided insulation. The papers were from the late 1800s.
Unfortunately, there was no way to take them down without destroying them. But we did spend days reading them as we worked. I don’t remember any particular article, but I do recall being fascinated with many of them and with the ads as well.”