Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Secret Room

One day this week, I received an excited knock at my door and my brother announced that a secret room had been discovered in the next door house where we grew up.  It had been purchased by a lovely family who are doing major renovations to the house.  In the floor of what my family called the dining room, a small room with a wooden slat trap door over it had been discovered by C. as he was tearing up old flooring.

I handed my brother a disposable camera and asked him to get pictures and in a few minutes, I went over to the house to see the secret room.  It was very exciting to see this little room that had been hidden under linoleum and homesote for so many years without our knowledge.  We wondered if it could possibly be a hiding place on the Underground Railroad.  I took more pictures and T. explained that their dachshund had run across and actually fallen into the room.  C had. retrieved her and stated he didn't want to go into the small enclosure again and would be closing it up soon.

There are some local houses noted for being stops during the era of the Underground Railroad.  I contacted the local town historian and while he said it sounded very interesting, he didn't believe this particular house was noted for it.  He politely asked for copies of the pictures that we took and referred  me to another historian in the county who has made a study of the Underground Railroad in our area.  I felt my excitement wane somewhat when hearing this.  I did contact the other historian and told him what I had been told by Mr. L. 

One of my sisters has sent me a few Internet links on cisterns in old houses, and this may be the answer to what the secret room might be.  One of the links actually showed a picture of a cistern with the small wooden trap door in it.  Our father often mentioned that our shower in the cellar had been built from an old cistern in the house and maybe the secret room was the remains of the original.  It's placement I think is close to where C. found the secret room.

How many of us growing up in big old houses wondered if there were secret rooms and passageways in our houses?  Reading books like the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis will foster this daydreaming of the secret places in our growing up places and even in our hearts.

I still laugh when I think of my brother's comment to me as I viewed the secret room this past week:  "We didn't find any buried treasure!"  He would dig holes as a boy looking for buried treasure.  I think the treasure was knowing there had been a secret room in house and not knowing it all the many years we lived there.  And if my parents knew about it, having built that shower from the cistern many years ago, they never told us.  I can hear my Dad's laughter now.


  1. That's really cool! Where in the dining room was it? I'm sure Grandpa is laughing about it!

  2. I'm so glad you visit my blog - and thanks to your sweet comment that lead me to this beautiful, inspiring blog - reading your posts is really brighten up my day.... Now, I know where to get my daily bowl of chicken soup for my soul.