Grandma’s Secretary

Hello to Everyone,

I have been very busy as of late, moving to another state, so that explains my absence. The move will be a blog of its own at some point as I moved into a Historic Registered home in a Historic District and theres back story and old photos to share about the place too! Im at Starbucks as my internet is not up and running yet at the house.

So this entry is about my Grandmothers House and Secretary. My Dads’ Mom was a Hoarder. Lived in a home from the late 1800s that she gained as a result of being a caretaker to the woman who lived in until her death. My Dad said his parents owned a store for a brief time but didnt make a lot of profit there, and that the secretary was in the store. So I have no idea the maker or year of it as there are no markings. This is a photo of my Grandmother’s House way back in the day. My Dad is the little boy in the photo.

My Grandmother died in the 1960’s. I was not born yet, and my dad had to go back from Cali to Iowa to clean out the place, he said he called Goodwill to haul off much of it and brought some home. He sold the Secretary to a family friend when he brought it back.

A few years ago my big sister and I were discussing my Grandma’s old home, we had no idea it was still standing and we were all kids when things were handled. We went to the old house back around 2002. Its too much work to save as the foundation is crumbling and floors are falling into the basement, part of roof is open, windows are all out. Its 2 story. But there were still things in it, we climbed the remains of the stairs to find stuff all over the floor of an upstairs bedroom. Photo is the top of the stairway on the second level as we climbed up it, most of the top planks were gone on the stairs, just the framing of it was intact.

This is a photo of the backside of the house during our visit.

So we brought back mainly paper items. And I found some old photographs. Its in a tiny town and just neighbors around keeping an eye on it. Property is still in the family and belongs to my brother.

Big sis and I were sad we had nothing else really from this side of the family and thats when my Dad said who owned the secretary. I used to go to their house as a kid, this family and drove over one day to inquire. I basically told her that if she ever wanted to sell or part with it could us kids buy it from her?

We also go to talking because shes trying to register her house on the historical register and I started helping her doing research on her place.  Here is a photo of her home and where the Secretary was lovingly cared for.

One day she told me “I should just give the secretary to you” I told her Id try to find a piece to replace it as she had her stuff displayed in it. I found a piece in Az, and drove it back to see if she liked it and that day we made the swap. So this piece came from Iowa in the 60s to California. Lived in an old 1909 old house of a family friend. I picked it up in 2011 and drove it to my home. And now I personally escorted it to our new home in Az. Whew! And the glass on the door is curved so its been removed and wrapped in blankets each trip! Here is the Secretary where it sat in Nancy’s house who bought it from my Dad in the 60s, this is after I came over and found out she still had it. Nancy has another secretary in the same room that belonged to her own mother and all of her shelves feature items from her family also.

The next photo is the Secretary in our new home in Arizona. Inside of it are items from both sides of my parents families, My mom and Dad both gave me some items, and then some are items I dug out of the old places of both sides of my family on our archaelogical family digs if you will.

Both sides of my parents came from Iowa, both sides of the original homesteads are still in the family, one caved into the basement on my moms side and my cousin and his family have built a home on the land. And then my Dads side belongs to my brother and sits alone except for when we come to prowl around her.


Filed under Loose Photos

16 responses to “Grandma’s Secretary

  1. How cool to have this family heirloom back! Congratulations!

  2. That’s a gorgeous piece. My sister has one that belonged to our great aunt, but it’s in rough shape, not nearly as ornate as this one. I love how things are displayed.

  3. It is beautiful! I enjoyed your memories and your story of how you got it back. I’m glad that even though the house was falling apart that nobody went inside and vandalized it and that you guys were able to get a few things from it. Welcome back to Sepia Saturday, and I can’t wait to see your new home.

    Kathy M.

  4. That’s a nice piece of furniture. It’s lucky that you were able to acquire it after all this time.

  5. This was most interesting, including the way you wove you own story in with that of a piece of beautiful furniture. I’d love to hear the Antiques Roadshow version on the “secretary.”

  6. That is pretty amazing – both finding papers still in the crumbling house and getting the secretary back in the family.

  7. That is a lovely piece of furniture. Happy Sepia Saturday.

  8. I understand how important it would be to you. My cousin recently gave me my Great Grandmothers crystal cabinet when she downsized her home. It brings back memories of my grandparents as Nanna always “hid” a bag of jelly beans for us kids behind a photo on the top of the cabinet.

  9. It really is a wonderful piece of furniture, well worth its own Sepia Saturday entry. And worth the lovely write-up you give it. Glad to have you back after your move.

  10. Joy

    I’ve didn’t know what a Secretary was until the photos, was an amazing piece of furniture. Nice its come back ‘home ‘.

  11. Fascinating story, but I’m amazed that your were able to find paperwork and pctures intact and that there had been no intruders.

  12. I was expecting Grandma’s Secretary to be someone working for her.. It was a pleasant surprise to learn it was a piece of furniture and an elegant piece at that. Intriguing story and I.m glad that intruders had not destroyed the photographs.

  13. How wonderful that you were able to make the swap! Nothing like having a piece of family history. A gorgeous piece of furniture.

  14. Karen S.

    Very cool indeed, that you got it back. I always wondered how it got that name, I know they have the door that drops down into a desk, but still to me it’s kind of a silly name!

  15. A very nice home secretary. Sometimes I’ve found photos or letters under the bottom drawer of pieces like this. The result of stuffing too much paper into the desk. Looking forward to your house stories as I live in an antique house too.

  16. Jo

    What a lovely post about how the secretary travelled and eventually came back full circle. I’ve never seen a piece of furniture like it – in Scotland they tended to have separate desks and display cabinets. I have a small Davenport desk 🙂 Jo

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