Plumbing repairs lead to startling discovery of century-old treasure hidden inside Michigan home

A Michigan family set out to fix a water heater and ended up finding a treasure trove of century-old relics in their bathroom.

The items include wooden dominoes, a business card for a music store dating back to 1907, a publication printout from 1913, a cutout of Jesus and a playing card from the Milton Bradley game “Game of Luck.”

Also found was a metal piece that makes different noises, said Jesse Leitch. He lives in the Grand Rapids home where the items were found with his partner and her two daughters and thinks the metal piece is part of a music box.

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“They thought it was pretty interesting too, especially the little music box thing,” he told USA TODAY Wednesday afternoon. “They like playing with that and making songs with it.”

plumbing repairs lead to startling discovery of century-old treasure hidden inside michigan home

A metal piece found in a Michigan home in 2024. A member of the family who found it, Jesse Leitch, suspects it is part of a music box.

Plumbers made the discovery last month. Leitch found out there was a water issue at his home in mid March and his water heater failed, so they had plumbers come out to gut the home’s plumbing system and make adjustments to a bathroom upstairs.

“They were cutting into the ceiling in my bathroom,” Leitch told USA TODAY. “As they were cutting into the ceiling, they saw these items kind of sitting … on top of the ceiling boards.”

He suspects the oldest item the plumbers found is a business card for a music store. It dates back to at least the early 1900s because the music shop moved away from the address on the card in 1907.

plumbing repairs lead to startling discovery of century-old treasure hidden inside michigan home

A business card for a Michigan music store. The card is from the early 1900s.

‘I’ve been living under this stuff and had no idea’

When the plumbers told Leitch about the items they found in the ceiling, he “was fascinated,” he said.

“I knew this house was old,” he said. “It was built in 1910, I believe. I’ve been here for 15 years. I’ve been living under this stuff and had no idea.”

plumbing repairs lead to startling discovery of century-old treasure hidden inside michigan home

A card from “Game of Luck,” a Milton Bradley game. A Michigan family found the card, along with other items dating back to the early 1900s, in their home in 2024.

His favorite among the items tucked away in the home’s ceiling is a handwritten note from someone named Gertrude, he said.

“Hello, Ruth,” he said, reading the note. “This is just the way Ethel looks now with her hair up on electric curlers. You remember Helen Stuart? Well, she says ‘hello’ to you, so does Anna. If any of the professors see Ethel, they’ll put her in the museum.”

At the top of the note is a drawing of Ethel with curlers in her hair.

plumbing repairs lead to startling discovery of century-old treasure hidden inside michigan home

A handwritten note found in a time capsule in a Michigan home in 2024.

Leitch likes the note because of its personal connection. He also said Helen Stuart matches a name on a local grave.

“It seems like she could’ve been alive around that time,” he said.

The plumbers also found toys such as wooden dominoes and a mini cast iron skillet.

The family had fun plans for the mini cast iron.

“We’re going to clean that up and try to cook some tiny food over a tea light,” Leitch told USA TODAY, adding that they’ll likely make stir fried veggies.

He plans to contact the Grand Rapids Public Museum to see if the organization is interested in the items the plumbers found. He’s also considering putting some items back in the wall with a note saying where the items came from.

He thinks there may be more items stowed away in the home since they only cut into a small area.

plumbing repairs lead to startling discovery of century-old treasure hidden inside michigan home

A publication printed in November 1913. A Michigan family found the printout, along with other items, in their home in 2024.

plumbing repairs lead to startling discovery of century-old treasure hidden inside michigan home

A publication printed in November 1913. A Michigan family found the printout, along with other items, in their home in 2024.

The find is pretty neat and somewhat relates to what he does for work, the data processor said. He works for a land survey company and has to read deeds and historical records.

“I’ve lived in this town my whole life and my dad lived in this town his whole life so we just kind of feel connected to this place anyway,” he said.

Saleen Martin is a reporter on USA TODAY’s NOW team. She is from Norfolk, Virginia – the 757. Follow her on Twitter at @SaleenMartin or email her at [email protected].

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Plumbing repairs lead to startling discovery of century-old treasure hidden inside Michigan home

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