Secret Rooms

Imagine you purchased an old 1918 house. Imagine living in it for three years. Now imagine finding a secret room behind a shelf.

That’s exactly what happened to me. I was working on replacing my old cloth-and-asbestos wiring with modern (grounded) wire. An electrician pal of mine was doing the heavy work. We replaced my old dual 15-amp circuits (for the whole house + garage!) with a new breaker box. The new wires had to be run inside the walls, so we did a bit of demolition, which is always fun. Behind my washer and dryer, I had a small in-wall cabinet with a couple of shelves. On the back end, this was in a dead space over the stairs going to the basement. We knocked a hole to see if we could run the wires through that spot, and my friend said, “Hey, it looks like there’s a room here, behind the shelf unit.”

I dug up a flashlight, and he peeked around through the hole. “Those shelves are on some kind of wheeled platform!”

We inspected the shelves, and he discovered a small catch that was well hidden. He unlocked the shelves and pushed them aside, then climbed into the space. The four foot by six foot space was completely finished, including having the same oak floor as the rest of the house, except with the original spotless stain and varnish. The walls had wallpaper, and it had beautiful finished baseboards. We were both confused what it was used for. The builders had obviously tried to keep it hidden. The only idea I could come up with was it was used for moonshine storage during prohibition.

For now, I’m using it for mundane storage, such as the Christmas decorations. In my head, I’m using it as fodder for a couple of short stories. I can climb into the space and imagine how it would feel to be locked in there, or to have something in there I’m trying to keep hidden from the rest of the neighbors.

As my wife told me when we showed her the space, “That’s just so creepy!”

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