Strange and Amazing Things Found in Homes

Things Found in Homes

This time, we’re looking at facts about things found in homes.

Often, people find strange and amazing things in ordinary dwellings. It’s why the Antiques Roadshow is so fun to watch. One just never knows what will turn up in someone’s attic, basement, or tucked away in a trunk somewhere.

Generally, one thinks about objects of value found in homes, like paintings that fetch millions. Other times, people find shocking, out of place things they would rather not.

We’ll look at a few recent examples of things found in homes.

WWII Explosives Found in Homes?

In Durham, North Carolina, a military veteran found a mortar round in his home’s crawl space. One Sunday, he was working on home renovations for a newly purchased home. It was then that he spotted what turned out to be a World War II-era ordnance near a cement pillar.

Bravely, Dr. Ralph Hayes moved the mortar to his garage and called 911.

According to WRALHayes said the round was stamped 1942 and resembled a “high-explosive round for a 60mm mortar.”

He says he realized it wasn’t active due to marking on the device and thus not a threat. Nevertheless, the round’s firing pin was still in place. 

Thanks to his military background, he immediately recognized the mortar. However, he didn’t know how it ended up in his crawl space. Possibly, it had been there since the 50s, judging by an old air conditioner unit nearby. 

Fortunately, most things found in homes don’t require calling in the bomb squad.

A Neighborhood Evacuation

When officers arrived on the scene, they were accompanied by a Bomb Squad. After evacuating the neighboring block for two hours, the experts safely removed the device.

This time, the mortar wasn’t a threat, but sometimes they can be live. For example, a teenager with a metal detector recently found one in Lebanon, Tennessee, in February 2020. After calling the police, experts decided to detonate the bomb on site.

Fortunately, nobody was hurt and the site was a grassy field.

See more about that from NewsChannel5 below:

Coincidentally, a Raleigh couple discovered a grenade in their yard in late January. While they were digging in the backyard, they turned up the grenade. After calling 911, authorities evacuated three homes.

Nobody knows where it came from, but investigators said any explosive material was removed before the couple found it.

See more about the mortar from Durham via CBS17:

Lost Photography Studio 

In this case, lawyer David J. Whitcomb didn’t merely stumble across an antique in an attic. No, he hit the jackpot of things found in homes, discovering an intact 20th-century photography studio with work by photographer James Hale in Geneva, New York. 

“Every person wants to find treasure. We all hope to find a pirate’s gold or something buried in an attic, and we did. It actually happened in my lifetime,” Whitcomb told News10. (see video below)

Of course, Whitcomb might not have found the studio if he hadn’t gone to change a lightbulb. He and a friend noticed the ceiling looked irregular and shone the light from a phone on the opening.

After removing a bit of drywall, they opened up a hidden space on the third floor. When Whitcomb looked inside, a treasure trove awaited.

It would take 12 hours to go through the assorted portraits, frames, glass negatives, and photography equipment from the late 1800s to the early 1900s. 

“The first thing I saw was a whole bunch of picture frames stacked together, and these frames are gorgeous,” Whitcomb tells CNN’s, David Williams. “They’re the turn-of-the-century, they’re gold, gilded, and they shone really bright, and I was like ‘Oh my God.’ I lowered myself and said, ‘I think we just found the Goonies treasure.'”

One can only imagine how exciting it must have been!

Susan B. Anthony by Johnston, Frances Benjamin, 1864-1952, photographer, via Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication
Susan B. Anthony by Johnston, Frances Benjamin, 1864-1952, photographer, via Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication

Susan B. Anthony and the Suffragettes

Astoundingly, some of the portraits were originals of women’s rights suffragette Susan B. Anthony. One of the pictures was among the last photos taken of her a year before she died in 1905.

Not just any photo, it’s the one the Women’s Suffragette movement voted to use as the official Anthony portrait.

The find came days away from February 15, marking what would have been her 201st birthday.

Below, Biography shared a video about Susan B. Anthony:

Among the finds, Whitcomb found photos of suffragettes Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Elizabeth Smith Miller.

Now, the negatives will have new life as a photographer from Geneva is planning to develop prints with them. From 1892 until 1920, Hale lived and worked in Geneva. In 1907, Hale displayed photos at the New York State Woman Suffrage Association in the city.

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Breaking Glass Ceilings

Interestingly, the president and CEO of The National Susan B. Anthony Museum and House told CNN that she has a print of the Hale photo hanging in her office.

“When I think about this negative and the broken glass, it’s a little bit reminiscent of some of the glass ceilings that Susan B. Anthony set in place for us to keep breaking,” said Deborah L. Hughes.

On Twitter, Hughes noted that “Anthony is as relevant today as she was more than a century ago.”

Every year, voters flock to the Mount Hope Cemetery in Rochester to pay tribute to Anthony. However, she died never knowing her fight to win women the sacred right to vote would succeed, reported CBS Sunday Morning.

In 1872, Anthony became a national sensation when she voted illegally in a presidential election. The trial had an all-male jury, and she wasn’t permitted to speak in her defense. As a result, she was fined $100, but she never paid the fee.

According to Smithsonian, “in recent years, she has faced increased scrutiny due to her racist remarks and exclusion of black suffragists from the mainstream movement.”

See more about Susan B. Anthony from CBS Sunday Morning below:

Mysteriously Sealed Off for Decades

At some point, the former owners turned the third floor into an apartment, putting in a drop ceiling to conceal the studio area. Over the decades, the space remained vacant. Previous owners had no idea the items were inside the sealed off attic space.

We don’t know how it ended up where it did and why it was just left and sealed off,” Whitcomb said. “We’ll probably never know the answer to that, but a little mystery is a good thing, I guess.”

Now, many of the items may be up for auction after restoring and cataloging the collection.

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See more from News 10 NBC:

Featured image: Susan B. Anthony by Johnston, Frances Benjamin, 1864-1952, photographer, via Wikimedia CommonsCreative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication with screenshots via YouTube