Sunday, September 16, 2012

Fossils from the walls

It's been too long since there's been an update on the house.  This is not because there hasn't been any news, but because too much has been happening and I haven't had the chance to pause and write about it.

I have to admit, as I have been poking about every nook and cranny of this old house, that I have entertained hopes of finding some buried treasure or precious memento.  Thus far, I have been mostly disappointed.  No treasure.  We have found a few things that are interesting, though.

Part of the work of making our addition has been to break the wall between the back bedroom, the space underneath the stairway, and a room that used to be a bathroom but was more recently a laundry room.  Some of this space will be incorporated into a new, sorta-ADA-compliant bathroom off the bedroom; the space under the stairway will be used for a linen cupboard in the bathroom.

The space under the stairway--a natural place for secreting treasure or a time capsule--yielded nothing except an empty nail box:

I just love the "Phone 121".  It was 1936, so a three-digit phone number isn't too surprising; at the time, Roseburg had a few thousand souls.  I can find some references to Coen Lumber into the 1940's.  The 1940 census contains this entry:
Amusingly, according to some newspaper clippings on Google, Frank Coen (perhaps Richard's brother?) and another Coen Lumber worker opened the shop in Eugene where we've purchased all of our lighting.

The top bit of the stairway (right above the broom handle in the first photo) yielded something a little more interesting.  There's this:

"July 11-36".  (The house was built in 1936.)

And this (I've inverted it, so it can be read):

"Critser & Matlack".  The builders, I'm guessing--though the current contractors had never heard of them, and I can't find any references.  The 1940 census yielded this:

but I can't find any Matlacks (my search was not exhaustive--I just looked at pages for Roseburg, not Glide or the surrounding areas, and I could easily have missed it if it were there). mentions a Jacob Rife Matlack who died here in 1958, but nothing more that I don't have to register for.

Anyway, here's a toast to Richard Coen, Fred Critser, and (Jacob) Matlack, and their excellent materials and handiwork.  May we do their work proud, and may it stand 76 years more in good health and prosperity!

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