If Walls Could Talk…

Earlier this week Husband found our first artifact of any real note! In the walls of the 3rd floor, we’ve found things like a pair of pants, an old broom handle, a single baby shoe. (Which isn’t creepy AT ALL…) But this is different and special and OLD.

Monday Hubs was crawling around with our son just poking around the house. The lower half of the wall all around the 3rd floor is wainscoting and there are little doors throughout that open onto a perimeter crawl space, just wide enough to explore.

They found this old bottle!

In doing research (mainly through this edoc from the Society of Historical Archaeology), we discovered this is an old soda bottle from the Belleville Glass Company. The A. Koob (and A.K initials on the bottom) stand for August Koob Soda Works.

Belleville Glass Company was founded (under the Belleville Glass Works umbrella) in 1882 by your Belleville big-hitters. Locals (and readers of some past posts) will recognize these names: J. Eimer, J. Fuess, F. Sunkel and E. Abend. The new firm issued 250 shares of stock at $100 each and by November 1882, the plant was churning out 14,000 bottles a day. These bottles were used for soda and beer.

By 1886, the plant would be purchased by Adolphus Busch of Anheuser-Busch fame. Our bottle bears the A. Koob engraving which points a bit to the year it was made. Now, there’s not a ton of info out there but we did find a document that states that Koob purchased the soda works from Louis Abegg in 1879 and operated it until he died in 1888.

So Koob brand soda was bottled using Belleville Glass Company bottles and this would have had to have happened sometime between 1882 (when the glass company was made) and 1888 (when the soda company was sold). Since our house was built in 1887 and we found this up on the 3rd floor, perhaps it was a refreshment for some hardworking home builder?

An exact version of this bottle sold on eBay for $31 whole dollars. We’re rolling now, y’all! Obviously we’ll never sell this but will happily display it in the home we so lovingly occupy.

Til next time,
The Brick and Maple Family ❤

Bringing the Stairs to Life

Prepare yourselves for about 7,000 pictures of our staircase… We are REALLY thrilled with how it turned out and I find myself just standing and staring at the beautiful wood that’s come back to life.

Here are a few shots of what it looked like before. Over the last 130 years, these floors have been painted, carpeted, and beat up. Not all of the treads are original but things like the landing are. The landing was in the worst shape as you can see in this second photo… carpet glue, paint, dirt, and years of wear-and-tear left it in dire need of some TLC.

Hubs took to woodwork like a fish to water. I swear, I don’t know how he just knows how to do stuff… but he does. First, as in every project we do, we made it safe. When it doubt, there’s ALWAYS lead in the paint… so we went the long, circuitous route of encapsulating ALL the paint on the stairs first, just to be safe. The last thing we’d ever want is to just take to sanding and then have lead paint dust particles floating in the air for forever. This step easily added a week to the project because it involved applying the goop, scraping the goop, properly disposing of the goop, cleaning said goop- a lot- and then letting it all dry.

Once it was dry, THAT’S when the sanding started. They started out like this:

Husband sanded and sanded and sanded. He would get up, sand for a few hours, work until midnight, and do it all again the next day…. but those floors.

Then they looked like THIS… so we got to testing stains and settled on Minwax’s Red Oak.

I stained the treads, painted the risers, AND did research. A few weeks ago I stumbled upon a photo of a home built in the same time frame as ours. It was of their staircase and for a hot second I thought it WAS our house. I got REALLY excited… and then less excited when I realized it wasn’t. However, it had this stunning Newel post lamp that got me wanting one. I took to eBay and found the most beautiful antique French art nouveau piece. The price was right and it was on my doorstep three days later.

The art nouveau distinction leads me to believe it is 1900-1930s time frame The wiring was all original. It still worked but I was concerned with fire safety so I made an off handed comment about how it would just be decorative. Husband (remember when I called him the smartest person in the world?) was like, “Uh, why? I’ll just rewire it.” It was a very Elle-Woods-Gets-Into-Harvard moment when I said “You can DO THAT?” and he cocked his head to the side and was all “What? Like it’s hard?”
So he just went ahead and re-wired the darn thing. He even managed to keep the original switch. So now we have this beautiful, almost-period-specific piece of ART in our entryway. It is so, so beautiful. Now you can see why I can’t stop staring!

Now when my family gets here tomorrow for the holiday, they’ll be able to truly enjoy such a grand entryway staircase. ❤

To wrap up, here are some side-by-sides!

Enjoy your holiday. Be blessed, be thankful. We’ll talk soon!
The Brick and Maple