Tech Talk – What is the Most Unique Buried Treasure You’ve Discovered and Been Able to Restore?

“It is not uncommon to discover a historic wood floor buried beneath carpet, linoleum, or other flooring. What is the most unique buried treasure you’ve discovered and been able to restore?”

Jason Elquest – Blackhawk Floors Inc.

The most unique floor that we uncovered was not the floor itself, but the newspaper clippings that had been used for insulation between the joists under the wood floor. We had to remove some damaged white oak strip flooring, and we found that newspaper had been wadded up and stuffed into every empty space under this floor. This was supposed to help with insulation. The paper was very brittle and, of course, wrinkled. The newspaper was dated June 6, 1944, D-Day! I did not find the headlines from that day, or the front page, but it still felt a bit surreal. I spent a good amount of time looking through the pages. I told the homeowner about it and he requested that we put it all back as it was, and did not seem impressed. It still meant something to me, though. Some wood floor guy was doing floors and supporting his family on that day, while others were fighting on foreign soil for our freedom.

Brett Miller – NWFA

We did many renovations in the older Denver neighborhoods. My favorite floors were always the vertical grain Douglas fir floors, because they tended to hold on to their past more than the old oak floors. I can’t say we found “buried treasures,” but I do recall refinishing many of these floors, and finding the old markings left behind that most often couldn’t be sanded out. I refer to these markings as “memory marks” in the flooring. To find shadows of where old walls used to stand, or where an old piece of furniture was placed, or even stains that couldn’t be sanded out, all gave a glimpse into the history of the home. We were doing an old historic restoration in the Montclair neighborhood in Denver, and learned that the castle we were working in (the Richthofin Castle) was owned by a descendant of The Red Baron. After learning of much of the history of this castle from the owner, the resand took on a whole new meaning. We found old burn marks in the floor in the shape of a spoon, and in the shape of a pot or pan. We found shadows of where old furniture once was. We could also see where the main traffic patterns occurred throughout the home. It was impossible not to consider this history of the home while exposing the beauty of the wood floors again.

Daniel Moore – ET Moore Manufacturing Inc.

I was restoring the historic Little England house in Gloucester, Virginia, which probably has some of the oldest wood floors in America. The floor was installed in 1685 and it went over boat parts from a merchant ship, which came from England. This is our theory, but there was certainly a prior use of those old joists. Essentially, all Colonial-era flooring was old growth heartpine, usually clear without any knots or the knots were very infrequent. There were sections of mid-20th century oak flooring over 19th century flooring over the original 17th century flooring that was pit sawn by English craftsmen. It is now a beautiful kitchen!


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