Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Best Before & After Ever

Today I had pretty modest goals:

  • Finish stripping one set of transom hardware
  • Paint one door of the clothes press
  • Paint trim around press door
  • Re-hang press door
  • Paint at least half the trim on the parlor door
  • Re-hang transom hardware
I accomplished all but the last two as I write this, and I'll probably finish those later tonight. 

As I was getting ready to paint the trim around the parlor door, I noticed that I'd never stripped the striker plate to that door.  It's one of three striker plates still left intact and in place after some idiot made the stupid decision to saw all the interior doors in half. 

When I took it off the door it looked like this, so I thought it was probably a plain striker plate like the other two Mare and I had uncovered.  But then, just as I dropped it in the CrockPot, I noticed something on the other side of the plate, the side that had been against the jamb.  Something wonderful.

I had a Howard Carter moment.  (Yes, I am a geek.)  See it there, in the top left corner?  That little leaf?  It's not a plain little striker plate at all.  Oh Sweet Mary!

A couple of hours later I fished it out of the Crock Pot and (ow, that's hot!) rubbed the gummy paint off with my fingers.  No brass brush scrubbing for this little gem.

Behold...the best before & after ever...
Is that not the most gorgeous little striker plate you've ever laid eyes on??  All these years it's been hidden under layers and layers and layers of paint. 

Excited, I took it over to my son's house.  "Mom, that's amazing!" he exclaimed.  "What are you gonna do with it?"  I must've looked at him like he wasn't quite bright.  "You're not gonna put that back on the door, are you?!" he said.  I told him that was exactly what I planned to do.  "No, no!  You should put it in a little shadow box."  I considered it, but I really think I'll put it back on the door.  Mrs. Kelly probably picked out these striker plates when the house was built, and all the doors on the front ("public") part of the house must have had them.  This one and the one on the front door are the only two fancy ones that survive.  I do think it would be the best memorial to Maria Kelly to use it.  The striker plate won't get much wear:  the door between the foyer and the second parlor (which is where this one came from) is almost always open, and even with all those layers of paint the latch barely caught the strike plate.  (The doorknob and its hardware are not original to the house.)  I'll keep an eye on it, and if it looks like the striker plate's wearing, I'll take it off and replace it with a plain one since I have a couple of extras of those.

As a side note, it makes me sick at heart to think of all the beautiful door hardware that must have been thrown away when the doors were cut in half.  I thank my lucky stars that the house still retains what little it does:  the front door hinges, doorknobs, backplates and striker plate; most of the transom window hardware (except for what was on windows that opened to the outdoors); two plain striker plates; seven sets of steeple hinges (only one hinge was so badly broken that it had to be replaced) and this fancy little striker plate.

I think I'll stare at it a few more times before I put it back on the door jamb....


  1. What an amazing thing to find. I'd put it back on the door too.

    I can't believe the stuff the subsequent owners took out of the house I grew up in - woodwork, etc.

  2. Oh! How exciting. I love when stuff like that happens!

  3. Do you think you could find more like them at a salvage yard? Or reproductions? Just a thought.

  4. That is beautiful. I've never seen one quite like it. I would have looked at your son the same way. "Well, of course it's going back on the door."

  5. AWESOME! Mrs. K. would be proud ...
    And I also want to thank Karen Anne for pointing out the url thing. I was starting to worry about you when all of a sudden SIXTEEN posts showed up in my Reader for you!!! ;-)