More Goodies!

Up next on my favorite installment of Stuff We’ve Found are these beauties! Another glass bottle, a short rim cartridge, a frequent buyer punchcard from Romeiser’s, dominoes, and really, really old glass. Husband has been doing some rewiring work on our 2nd floor and to access some of those electrical lines, he’s been crawling in walls and prying up floorboards on the third floor. He’s started quite the little collection of items and I could not be more excited. Each piece just adds to the story.

I love to sit and imagine what happened on the days those items were placed there so long ago. Who thought to hide their glass bottle in the wall instead of burying it in the backyard? Who dropped their clothing punchcard between the floorboards and which curse word did they use when they realized it was gone “forever”? Was a child disappointed that they’d lost their dominoes? The endings to those stories are left to the imagination… but that’s my favorite part.

 

 

This Nehi soda glass bottle has a patent date on the bottom of March, 1925. It was bottled here in Belleville, IL. In 1924, the Chero-Cola company added Nehi to its roster of sodas, offering grape, orange, root beer, peach, and other flavors of soda. It was instantly successful (outselling the Chero-Cola name brand entirely), which caused the company to change its name to the Nehi Corporation in 1928. Sales boomed and, despite a dip in sales in 1931 due to the Great Depression, Nehi was widely a household name even through the 1940s.

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When chero-cola was rebranded at Royal Crown cola, the company saw yet another name change to RC Cola, the same RC Cola we see in stores today. It’s likely that this bottle was enjoyed by someone who lived on our third floor during the time it was parcelled into wartime apartments. It’s in remarkable condition, without a single nick or chip.

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This rimfire cartridge seemed pretty mysterious at first because the headstamp on the end resembles the German Cross (which would have been a no-no after about WWI…) but through pretty deep digging, we were finally able to track its source. This is a .22 short rimfire cartridge from the Western Cartridge Company based out of East Alton, IL. They used the Maltese Cross as a headstamp, later using it as their company logo. It’s not uncommon for the German Cross to be confused with the Maltese Cross, which is why we were a little confused in the beginning. The Western Cartridge Company transitioned to using a diamond stamp and logo in 1910, so this cartridge likely predates that.

One of the more interesting finds were these two fully intact sheets of plate glass. The label indicates that they came from the Pittsburgh Plate Glass company in Creighton, PA, the first financially successful plate glass company in the country. Established in 1883, they would become the largest manufacturer of plate glass in the world. Plate glass is different than other glass in that it is poured and rolled into shape, instead of blown. Extensive grinding and polishing operations–reducing the plate to half its original thickness–made the product smooth and shiny, free of optical distortion (AKA: no more wavy glass).

 

There’s no real way of telling if this glass was using during construction of our house in 1887 (with these being leftovers just being left behind) or whether Peter Romeiser was interested in using Pittsburgh Plate Glass in the windows of The Romeiser Company and had these sent as samples. Regardless, the glass itself is in perfect condition. The paper logo is worn but it’s at least 130 years old– what do you expect?! 🙂

Today Husband bought a giant high-power magnet to help grab up any other metal items floating around in the places he crawls through. Hopefully this isn’t my last update on things we’ve found in walls!

Lots of love,
Emily

Opportunity Doesn’t Knock… it Rings the Doorbell

I can honestly say that I never once in my life pictured an afternoon spent researching the history of the doorbell. But, it’s still cold outside (surprise, surprise), so what else am I going to do? Clean? Yeah… right.

Recently, local Belleville history enthusiast and President of the Belleville Historical Society Larry Betz contacted me and my husband saying he had something of ours. He went on to explain that it was the original doorbell to the Romeiser house. When we met up with him, he explained further.

The house has been mostly occupied since it was built in 1887. The Romeiser family owned it until 1919 when it was sold, converted to a boarding house, and then later changing hands a few times over the years. When the house ultimately ended up in foreclosure in the early-20aughts, the house was essentially emptied. The fact that so much of our beautiful architectural details survived that time is impressive to me. Larry told us how he came in and was able to procure the home’s original doorbell and he’s been holding on to it ever since. He expressed how it was time to return it to its rightful place on the walls of this incredible home.

The doorbell itself is, at its core, simple, though advanced for the time. The fact that the Romeisers even HAD a doorbell is impressive. However, knowing how Peter Romeiser was at the forefront of basically every advancement and was a very progressive thinker, I’m not surprised. His store, The Romeiser Company, changed the way businesses operate. He was one of the first merchants to use a set-price model for his items… the price you see on the tag is what you pay, no haggling. His store was the first in Belleville to use interior electricity. We know for a fact he had a home telephone in 1906– if not earlier. He saw the value in invention, the beauty in progress, and he wanted to be a part of that.

We fully believe this doorbell is original to the home’s construction. (It looks almost identical to this image I found on Wikipedia of an 1884 doorbell from Budapest.) 640px-Lakáscsengő_-_Andrássy_út_94_szám_II._emelet_2_ajtószám_(1)Simple clapper doorbells work through high-school science. When you push the button, you complete an electrical circuit. This “push-to-make” switch powers a hammer that rings a bell. My husband (you know, the one I previously mentioned who just knows how to do everything? Yeah. Him.), he totally got this thing to work while tinkering with it down in the basement. We may wrap our heads around REALLY getting it to work but for now will still display it lovingly.

I am so thankful to Larry for thinking of us and being so devoted to preserving history and saving the details of these old homes. Without his dedication, this piece of Romeiser house history would likely be lost today and we’d have had no way of knowing it ever existed.

His work with The Belleville Historical Society, along with the work of other members, is inspiring and exciting. And it’s for those reasons that I’ve decided to partner with them and join as a member. I’m also really thrilled to be able to announce that they’ve nominated me to a position on their Board of Trustees which was approved at their membership meeting last week!

The way that the pieces of my life have fallen into place within only 7 months of moving here is nothing less than extraordinary. The ways in which people have embraced us and supported us and encouraged us to get involved have made us feel more at home than any place we’ve lived in a really long time. I am practically buzzing with excitement over the possibilities and wondering what the future holds; it’s exactly the kind of life I pictured for myself when I was a little girl.

To check out what the Belleville Historical Society is all about, visit their website and consider joining or donating! So here’s to many, many more years researching Belleville homes and families, and preserving those stories for years to come. Even if it means spending an hour reading about doorbells.

Music Room Facelift!

Because Pinterest is really French for “You Can’t Sit Still,” I am constantly taunted by exquisite home decor pins. When I stumbled upon one of a room painted Hague blue, I just knew I had to had to HAD TO have one of my own.

I’d been toying around with the idea of redoing our computer and music room so when we de-Christmased and I was staring at an awkwardly empty bay window, I knew now was the best time.

Check out the space before:

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It was perfectly functionally but a bit… boring. There was no spice, no flavor, nothing bold. I didn’t feel like I’d injected any personality into the room whatsoever.

But now? Ohhhhh NOW it is warm and pulled together and cohesive and I am SO happy I went with such a bold color.

Enjoy these after shots!

I used Sherwin William’s Showcase ultra deep base paint-and-primer in “Narragansett Navy” and updated the radiators with Rustoleum’s Hammered Copper.

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Design accents came from Target (their Project 62 line is to die for! Lamp, side table, and succulent are all Project 62), TJMaxx (throw, gold photo frame, and yellow flowers) and Amazon (rug, Persian Rugs Distressed 4620; shelf, Yaheetech). All the other design elements are antiques that I’ve collected over the years. The National Geographic Magazines belong to my great-grandmother Jennie and are all from the 1950s!

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I am so beyond pleased with how this turned out… I can’t stop staring!!!

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Let us know in the comments below… what’s your favorite feature?!

Note: I have no affiliate relationships with any of the stores or brands mentioned in this post!

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