For my first history entry, I’m starting with one of the most obvious mysteries from the house’s past: the basement storeroom.
Just past the boiler, tucked into a corner of the basement is a storeroom lined with shelves like the one pictured above. Along the edge of the shelves are labels of years running from 1895 to 1948. My first guess about the purpose of the shelves was that they held church records from when the house was a parsonage. Now I have a new theory.
The first clue I discovered is the ordering of the labels. The labels are sequential along individual shelves but the sequence is scattered between shelves throughout the room, suggesting that at least some shelves were added as the years passed. From the abstract document, I learned that the church did not buy the house until December 1952. If the labels were made in 1952 when the church bought the house, the whole set of labels– 1895 through 1948– could have all been added at once because the dates were all in the past. This doesn’t fit with the scattered label order suggesting the shelves and labels were added over time.
Today I found the second clue to the purpose of the shelves and labels. As I was taking the photograph above, I noticed the labels appeared to be made of medical tape . The people who sold us the house told us that it was built for a doctor to use as a home and medical office. Aha! The shelves could be where the doctor kept his patient records or other annual files and he made labels from the medical tape he had lying around. Some of these files were already nearly 30 years old when the house was built in 1923, but others would have been added during the doctor’s time in the house.
So that’s my current theory: the storeroom and shelves were the records department for a doctor’s in-home medical practice. I’m planning to keep the labels and shelves intact, perhaps as a wine cellar, but I’m glad 21st century medical records have left the dust and cobwebs of basements like mine.