Where to start on searching an old mansion?
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Thread: Where to start on searching an old mansion?

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  1. #1
    us
    Oct 2011
    129
    12 times
    CRHing

    Where to start on searching an old mansion?

    I normally keep to the coin roll hunting forum and I don't even own a metal detector. However an opportunity came up that I can't pass up.

    A small developer in my town recently bought a 4.5 acre tract of land that included an old 4000 sqft mansion built in the mid 1930s. The mansion sits on half of the property and the other half is a homesite for another mansion that was torn down years ago.

    I've been given permission to salvage/keep whatever I can find before it's demolished in two weeks. One guy has already been through salvaging most of the awesome building materials (moldings, fireplace surrounds, stained glass windows, original wood flooring, light fixtures, copper gutters)

    So given that I'm short on time, should I focus on the either of the yards looking for buried caches, in the walls of the basement looking for hidden caches, or on opening the floor safe that the previous owner forgot the combo to(no idea if there's anything in it). Or I could assume I won't find anything and stick to reclaiming antique roof tiles and a few other items of interest/value like bronze/glass knobs, marble surrounds, dozens of concrete finials on the brick fence, wrought iron porches, etc.)

    If you only had a couple of days, what would you do?

  2. #2
    us
    Feb 2008
    SE Missouri
    garage sale oldie
    3,071
    864 times
    TH'ing, fishing, reading, cooking
    Always search the hot air vents. even if they are in the wall & not the floor it was a good place to stash things. outside, I would hunt around the oldest trees, & under porches. Search around sheds etc, lots of stashes were hidden not by the house but by the out buildings. Good luck! Keep us informed, & share pictures.
    dancing in the fire!

  3. #3
    Charter Member
    us
    Rook

    Nov 2013
    XP Deus, F75Ltd., AT PRO, Garrett pointer
    16,522
    56678 times
    Cache Hunting
    Sounds exciting. I've always started in the front around the steps and work my way around the house but in this case I'd start in the back. check around where the steps were or are, if possible lift the steps out of the way. Around any out houses for sure. Lots of hiding places on these old estates. Good luck.

  4. #4
    us
    Oct 2011
    129
    12 times
    CRHing
    Quote Originally Posted by mamabear View Post
    Always search the hot air vents. even if they are in the wall & not the floor it was a good place to stash things. outside, I would hunt around the oldest trees, & under porches. Search around sheds etc, lots of stashes were hidden not by the house but by the out buildings. Good luck! Keep us informed, & share pictures.
    I will. Headed back on Monday.

  5. #5
    us
    Feb 2010
    Formerly NH now East Tennessee
    Garrett GtaX1250
    3,413
    3181 times
    If it was me I'd be grabbing the architectural stuff that's going to be gone forever once the building is gone. You can likely make arrangements to search the grounds later. Take note now of where the porches are (if any) front & back entrances, gates, etc. and search those areas at a later date.
    CoilyGirl likes this.
    Live Free or Die

  6. #6
    us
    Aug 2012
    New Mexico USA
    My Head
    2,318
    1823 times
    It's rumored that some didn't trust banks in the ol days and would bury their box by a tree in site of either the kitchen window or the living room.
    In those people knew enough to realize they trees grow so the spread of the branches was considered so they wouldn't fall on the house. The tree might have been 75 feet away.
    Today many lots are so small that we see the wind causing trees to fall on cars, houses, power lines..
    Last edited by hvacker; Jan 18, 2014 at 12:15 PM.
    Chop wood..Carry water

  7. #7
    us
    Jun 2012
    MA
    M-6, pro pointer, pistol probe
    14,711
    17296 times
    All Types Of Treasure Hunting
    Get as much help as you can to cover as much as you can! GL HH!

  8. #8

    Jun 2007
    Minnesota
    Tiger Shark, Xterra 705
    3,986
    2919 times
    All Types Of Treasure Hunting
    Knobs and all hinges and similar hardware first. Great resale value. Then I'd head up to the attic and look in every corner because usually stuff gets forgotten there. I would also pull out every floor vent (if they are metal, keep them, they arevaluable too) and then check each vent for things dropped or stashed in them. I'd take a look at the floors in the bedrooms for loose floorboards, and any remaining built ins and closets for hidden stash spots. What an awesome opportunity!
    I'm a greater believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it”

    Thomas Jefferson

  9. #9
    us
    Oct 2011
    129
    12 times
    CRHing
    Thanks for the advice everyone. I've been meaning to get a detector for months and this will put me over the edge. Probably going to get a Fisher F2 or Tesoro Compadre.

    There is a very unique old tree about 30 ft from the house. I'd hide something there if I was burying things in my yard. The vents are a great idea. They're all iron if I recall and are at the baseboard level. All of the hardwoods are gone so the loose floorboards won't work unfortunately. First time I've seen a house with 2x6 subfloors instead of plywood. Part of me wants to save even those as they're great lumber. The floor joists are actual 2x10s over 10 ft long, not nominal 2x10.

  10. #10
    us
    Feb 2008
    Santa Fe, New Mexico
    Whites, MXT.
    8,665
    5074 times
    All Types Of Treasure Hunting
    Obviously harvest whatever architectural treasures you can before the demolition takes place - you mentioned a time frame of two weeks ?,
    will you have access to the property after that time frame in order to detect it thoroughly ? If so ,you need to get with someone who knows
    detecting - and enlist their help in getting up to speed on detecting . A four and a half acre tract of land is huge - so hopefully you can take
    whatever time you need to go over it in a relaxed manner . You'll want to target any features that stand out on the land : boulders , creeks,
    large trees , out buildings , any areas that would have been well suited to gatherings ,lawn party's etc. Good Luck !

  11. #11
    us
    Oct 2011
    129
    12 times
    CRHing
    I spent much of the day reclaiming the roof tiles. Probably ended up with 20 lbs of copper flashing and nails in addition to the tiles. Also got some cool moldings, marble counters, door hardware, and concrete finials. Next time I'll look for caches outside. No luck under floor boards, stairs, attic, basement, or in vents.
    Last edited by silvernd; Jan 20, 2014 at 04:56 PM.

  12. #12
    Charter Member
    us
    An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

    Oct 2004
    N. San Diego area (Pic of my two best 'finds'; son and grandson)
    Minelab Explorer
    19,828
    13352 times
    Shipwrecks
    Honorable Mentions (2)
    Take a flashlight into the attic; don't hurry. Look in all the nooks and crannies. Do the same in the basement.
    Take panoramic pics of the exterior with the mansion in the pic and the surrounding trees or other structures--so you'll be oriented in your subsequent search of the grounds. The owners may have used a well and outhouse; check them out--and the access (paths) to those places.
    Don....

  13. #13

    Jul 2012
    Holmes County Ohio
    Tesoro Lobo
    2,077
    1692 times
    All Types Of Treasure Hunting
    Those big old houses often had built in hiding places, the molding around or between double windows, under or behind book cases and counters, under stair treads, in banister posts, any fancy woodwork that could have a void behind it. They may even have been painted over by someone.

    I remember my first big find years ago, the bottom stair tread was loose on the inside an old abandoned house. I removed it, and there it was, a zippered bank deposit bag from a local bank that had gone out of business years ago. I picked it up, and felt a large amount of bills inside. My heart started thumpin, my hands were shaking as I unzipped the bag. What felt like bills, was about a 2" stack of cancelled checks! ARRRRGH!! I put them back where I found them, for the next guy.
    Two rules in life: Don't sweat the small stuff.

    It's all small stuff.

  14. #14
    us
    Oct 2011
    129
    12 times
    CRHing
    Quote Originally Posted by Mackaydon View Post
    Take a flashlight into the attic; don't hurry. Look in all the nooks and crannies. Do the same in the basement.
    Take panoramic pics of the exterior with the mansion in the pic and the surrounding trees or other structures--so you'll be oriented in your subsequent search of the grounds. The owners may have used a well and outhouse; check them out--and the access (paths) to those places.
    Don....
    Unfortunately I think the attic is out. There was an invoice and info statement posted in it that said the insulation had all been replaced in 2006. I'd imagine anything that had been there from the prior 70 years was probably found then.

    I'm planning on detecting the landmarks outside in the next few days.

 

 

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