Friday, March 3, 2017

Finding Things in Walls

Robbie Jordan here, from Maddie Day/Edith Maxwell's Country Store Mysteries.

I'm so excited that my third adventure will be out at the end of this month You can preorder When the Grits Hit the Fan wherever books are sold!.

If you've read the earlier books, you know my single mom was a cabinetmaker who taught me the basics of carpentry. So when I bought the run-down country store in southern Indiana (where my mom was from), I did most of the renovations herself to transform the downstairs into my breakfast and lunch restaurant, Pans ‘N Pancakes. But I've always planned to develop the unused second floor into a few bed and breakfast rooms, and I'm doing just that in book three, When the Grits Hit the Fan. It’s winter, the restaurant business is a bit quiet, and I have time to tear out walls upstairs.

My author says she knows a little bit about the renovation process, having lived in a construction zone for the past ten years! That’s what her partner Hugh does – buys antique New England houses and remakes them into insulated beautiful homes with new wiring, plumbing, and walls but retaining the charm of their trim and floors. He finds amazing things in the walls, including historic bottles, old coins, and newspapers. He also found a pair of pink baby moccasins and one high-heeled black shoe that looked
like it was from the thirties or forties, as well as the carpenter’s signature and date on the back of a piece of window trim.

Funny how those same shoes appeared in the walls of my building in South Lick, too. But it was when I found not only a secret passageway but an old diary in the wall that thing really got interesting - and a bit dangerous, too! I hope you enjoy the read.

Readers: Have you ever lived through a home renovation? Discovered curious items in walls or at yard sales or vintage shows? 

Edith Maxwell writes the Quaker Midwife Mysteries (with Delivering the Truth nominated for an Agatha Award for Best Historical Mystery) and the Local Foods Mysteries; the Country Store Mysteries and the Cozy Capers Book Group Mysteries (as Maddie Day); and award-winning, Agatha-nominated short crime fiction.

Maxwell is President of Sisters in Crime New England. She lives north of Boston with her beau and three cats, and blogs here, with the other Wicked Cozy Authors, and with the Midnight Ink Writers. You can find her on Facebook, twitter, Pinterest, and at her web site,


  1. Home renovation never ends (sez she, slogging through her second Victorian). The oddest thing the current house has produced was a single stereopticon image (you know, the ones that are sort of binocular?) probably before 1900, found under the attic floorboards. It shows a woman looming over a man--who is doing laundry. A feminist message from the past?

  2. While renovating our 1940's farmhouse which was mostly built from materials that came from a house built in the 1800s that was being torn down, we have found some peculiar items. The first was when we pulled down the ceiling in a downstairs bedroom and a pair of men's underwear came falling down. The second was when we pulled up the linoleum in the kitchen to find old newspapers, coins, buttons and a screwdriver. The foundation is next and who knows what's buried under this house?

  3. We are the second owners of the co-op apartment we live in. About twelve years back we had the money to demo the kitchen to the studs. After the crew took out all the cabinets they started working on the walls. We found that the previous owners upgraded it by just putting plywood over the old walls covering up the outlets and leaving all that wiring in place. We gained 2 1/2" in the width of the room after we were all done. LOL

    Now we are planning on ripping out all the carpet in the living/dining room and hallway. having the place painted and installing a ten and a half foot wide custom set of bookshelves/tv unit/glass cabinet before putting in all new carpeting. All while we will still be living in the apartment. Should be lots of fun. ;-)

  4. In another life, I lived in a home that was about 150 years old and we needed to update some things for our family. We did not find anything in the walls, but we did find that in the sun room - windows on 3 sides - not one window was the same distance from the floor or the ceiling - and the 3 doors were all different distances from the ceiling. But, that house had the most wonderful atmosphere and feeling of warmth.

  5. We have never renovated; we rented most of our marriage because coaches in Texas seldom stay in one spot for long. I leave my exciting find to the pages of wonderful books like When the Grit Hits the Fan. Absolutely loved it. The characters are amazing and the plot is so intriguing!

  6. No, I haven't. I always look at the old photos people leave in frames at sales, and wonder about their stories.

    1. I've done that. A while back I bought a single photo of a pair of kids, who clearly didn't want their picture taken. Their first names were written on the back, but no more. But the photographer was in Arizona, and I think there was a date on the picture--which luckily was shortly after they started recording censuses there. There were so few people listed then that I could identify the children based on their first names alone. BTW,I bought the picture because the girl (the older child) was such a tomboy--no way was she going to dress up for the picture.