Restoring a 1915 Colonial Revival house

After researching the history of our house, we decided to go on a little treasure hunt to see what past residents and visitors to our house had left behind. Buried and forgotten pieces of the past are present around any old home and they can provide a direct connection to those who were there before you as well as giving you a faint glimpse of what life was like there years ago.

Our treasure hunt is continually ongoing, but began in the yard after the spring thaw in 2010. We were particularly interested to see if anything was left behind from the early years of the house, as the first residents had five children who most likely spent a good deal of time in the yard. Kids tend to be more careless with things than adults, so there was a good chance that either the Thomas children or some of their friends had unintentionally left a World War I era time capsule in the yard - provided no one had searched the yard before.

We searched the front, sides, and back of the house with a metal detector and sure enough, no one had ever searched it before. The majority of the finds seemed to belong to two distinct time periods: the 1910s through the mid 1920s, and the 1940s through the 1950s. Not surprisingly, these time periods correspond to when there were kids in the house.

For our artifact display, we'll start with this badly corroded key fob. Caughy and Company Realtors sold the houses in Ten Hills when they were new. According to the key fob, they were located at 220 East Lexington St. in Baltimore. This may have been attached to the original key to our house when it was new, or perhaps was dropped by a neighbor in the early years of Ten Hills.

This lead rosette was found in the dirt beside our front door. It matches the ones in the leaded glass transom above the front door. We've long believed that the sidelights beside the door once had leaded glass in them and this seems to prove that theory.

Ten Hills was known as a "Streetcar Suburb" at the time of its construction, as the Edmondson Avenue line marked the northwest boundary of the neighborhood. As a result, streetcar tokens have been a common find around our house. These were issued by the United Railways and Electric Co. around the late 1910s/early 1920s. The United Railways and Electric Co. changed its name to the Baltimore Transit Co. in 1935 and later became part of today's Maryland Transit Authority, known as MTA for short.

The reverse of the streetcar tokens pictured above. These were "school fare" tokens.

This Baltimore News trade token was found in the front yard. It's made of copper and about the size of a half dollar. An interesting bit of information here: this token pre-dates the house by a few years. The building depicted on the front of the token stood at the corner of Calvert and Fayette streets for only about seven years. It was built in 1904-1905 during the reconstruction period after the Baltimore fire. It was then demolished in 1911 to make way for a 16-story office building. The short time that this building stood dates this token to around 1905-1910. This token has very little wear and most details are sharp, so we're thinking it may have been dropped here during the 1909 survey of the property.

The Baltimore News was a newspaper established in Baltimore in 1873. It was known as the Baltimore News until 1934, when it merged with the Baltimore Post. The newspaper became defunct in 1986.

Here is some of the ever-growing collection of Wheat Cents that have come from our yard. The dates are: 1909, 1909, 1911, 1911, 1912, 1912, 1912, 1914, 1914, 1914, 1914, 1916, 1917, 1917, 1917, 1918, 1918, 1919, 1919, 1919, 1919, 1919, 1919, 1919, 1920, 1920, 1920, 1923-S, 1924, 1925, 1926, 1929, 1934, 1934, 1934, 1934, 1935, 1937, 1940, 1940, 1940, 1941, 1941, 1944, 1944, 1945, 1945, 1945, 1945, 1946, 1946, 1948, 1948, 1949, 1950-D, 1951-D, 1952, 1952, 1952-D, 1954, 1955, 1956-D.

Here are two Indian Head cents that came from our yard - an 1895 and an 1897.

A badly corroded 1911 Liberty Head nickel, also known as a "V Nickel".

Two Buffalo nickels - a 1918 and a 1923.

We've been surprised at the number of Barber dimes the yard has yielded. The dates we've found so far are: 1897, 1906, 1908, 1909, 1910, 1911, 1912, 1912, 1912-D, 1913, 1913, 1913, 1913, 1914.

1936, 1942, and 1943-D Mercury dimes

A 1946 silver Roosevelt dime and a 1943-P Jefferson "War" nickel.

1942, 1944, and 1951 silver Washington quarters.

A 1934 copper 1/12 Anna coin from British India. It's slightly smaller than a US dime. We would love to know the story behind how this got into the yard.

Another strange and mysterious item. It appears to be either a watch fob or a medallion of some kind that is slightly smaller than a half dollar. There is an Asian character and the number 32 on the front. On the back is a wreath with another Asian character in the center.

The reverse of the fob.

An early automobile door handle.

A 1910s Ayeristocrat cosmetic case with dried cosmetic still inside. This came from the same hole as a few coins dated 1909 through 1914 and several rusted hair pins. We believe that someone dropped a purse and the contents spilled out onto the ground. It may have happened at night or in tall grass for so many items to have gone unrecovered.

Top left: A red brass US Navy button, probably World War I era or shortly thereafter. Harriett, the eldest daughter of David and Elizabeth Thomas, married Edward Ritchie, an officer in the US Navy, in 1927. It is possible this button may have been lost by him.  Top right: A sterling silver button, circa 1915. Bottom: an unknown coat of arms button.

A US Capitol tie tack or lapel pin. Guessing it's 1930s/1940s vintage.

Baltimore city dog licenses from 1954, 1956, and 1978. A 1953 dog license was also recovered, but is not pictured.

A circa 1915-1920 Equitable Insurance Co. advertising thimble.

A lead toy soldier, probably made by Barclay. Unsure of the date, but probably 1930s or 1940s.

A small lead toad. Not sure if this was a toy or what it may have been.

An Automatic Toy Co. key, probably from the 1940s.

There will be more added to this page as we find it, so be sure to check back! We're also working on a page showing artifacts found inside the house.