I have another 30 yard dumpster coming out today, and whatever's left to gut in the basement is going in it. There's not a whole lot left to deal with in terms of square footage, but there's a fair amount plaster to drag out, which is a painfully slow process.
Because of that, I've been trying to get as much drywall off the basement walls and ceilings and onto the ground as I can, so that when the dumpster shows up I can start filling it up right away. A little demo here, a little demo there...now I've got some piles; I'm ready for the dumpster.
Yesterday's demo yielded another thing in the basement I wasn't expecting to find:
This is the northern wall in the southernmost room (front of the house) in the basement, which appeared to have - recently - been both a bedroom and a relatively (my $.02) inhumane dog captivity area. I didn't think this particular wall was original to the basement, but the discovery of plaster meant that it was. I'm not gonna lie, I wasn't real happy about finding more plaster under drywall.
As I peeled the drywall away, working left to right in the pic, I noticed two drastically different paint colors: the beige enamel stuff and the green. I proceeded carefully with the drywall removal, trying my best to leave the plaster instact so I could see the green shape in its entirety.
Once I cleared all the drywall, my first thought was that the bowl shape indicated some sort of sink, but the thing is like 4' off the ground, making it too high to be a kitchen or bathroom sink. And then I realized...maybe this was where Herman Saxenmeyer ran his dental practice.
Dr. Herman Saxenmeyer, who I don't know much about, was born in 1864 in Red Bud, IL. At some point he moved to St. Louis and became a dentist, running his dental practice from a 4th floor office in the Commercial Building, located downtown at 6th and Olive, now the site of One Metropolitan Square.
Side note: the Commercial Building was built between 1887 and 1889, and it was such a prominent building that its tenants didn't use a street address to identify their location; their ads simply stated "(office #) Commercial Building".
In 1910 Herman began renting the house I'm currently rehabbing, and in 1918 he purchased it. He lived in the home until 1932, during which time he ran his dental practice out of some part of the house. I still don't know for sure where in the house he worked on people's teeth, but I'm starting to think it was in the basement's front room.
Further examination of the green shape indicates that this was almost certainly where a cast iron sink hung on the wall. If you've ever seen the old school cast iron sinks, you know they almost always had big round corners, which this shape has. The wood in the wall served as blocking for something, and a heavy cast iron wink would definitely be helped by some blocking.
The bottom right corner of the wood is missing, but it looks like there was a circular hole, at one time, at the left end of the void, and a similar circular hole about 8" to the left. Those could very well have been hot and cold water lines, and if you look at the very first pic you'll see a large hole beneath the green shape's "bowl"; if this was indeed a big sink, that hole is about the right size and location for a drain pipe to run into the wall.
Additionally, there appears to be multiple layers of paint on top of the green, meaning somebody had to paint around something many times, presumably for many years.
So...it's the right shape to be a cast iron sink, it's got evidence of plumbing which supports the idea that the shape was a sink, its height would have made it unsuitable for use as a kitchen or bathroom sink, and the paint means the thing was there forever ago...like 100 years ago, when somebody would have potentially needed a big sink as part of their dental practice.
Here's the wall with a little more context. I got into the rest of the wall post-pics; the doorway to the right, which now leads into a bathroom, appears to be original (the original jamb is there, but it was covered by drywall and a newer door jamb. No exciting finds, just more plaster under drywall.
I still have the ceiling to uncover, which is more drywall covering plaster. If the plaster is still halfway intact, maybe it'll give me some clues about what this space was used for. Likewise, the floor in this room is plywood, elevated a couple inches above whatever's underneath it. I assume the floor was built up so that, if this was a bedroom in more recent times, insulation could be placed between the plywood floor and the concrete floor. But maybe it was done for a different reason...I'll find out soon enough.