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15 Shocking Discoveries Found When Renovating Old Homes

Shocking

Hand grenades, gold bricks, treasure maps, stacks of cash, machine guns, and dead bodies. These are just a few of the things people have found while renovating their houses. Renovations are all about taking something ugly and turning it into something of value. But sometimes, in the course of renovations, people find things of such great value that they overshadow the improvements on the house themselves. There have been so many of these stories in the past. Sometimes, when people knock down their walls, they find bricks of gold or other goodies, hidden away by previous owners only to be forgotten. In other situations, people find things that aren’t so glorious, such as dead bodies or stashes of drugs. But whatever people find, it makes for a great news story.

It’s almost like people get to live out a fantasy that archaeologists and “relic hunters” experience on a daily basis, hunting down treasures buried within their own homes. Can you imagine how awesome it would be to find some diamonds under your floorboards? Or a secret treasure map to some uncharted island? I’m pretty sure that was how a number of video games and movies got their start. But unlike these fantastical stories, these tales are actually 100% true.

Most of the time, people keep these discoveries to themselves, not wanting people to know their amazing discovery. But sometimes, word gets out and these stories become the focal point for countless news stories. They often go viral and get thousands of views on the web. These stories are amazing because they remind us that the world really is a magical place, and wonder and excitement might be lurking right under your feet. 

15. A Suitcase Full Of Money

One couple was renovating their house when they came across every DIY-er’s dream: A suitcase full of money. The house they were renovating was built in the 1940s. They had just finished renovating the top two floors and could finally make it down to the basement. That’s where they found this suitcase. They went outside to the garden and laid the green suitcase on the grass. The husband thought that it might be baseball cards. But it turned out to be much better than that. They opened up the suitcase to find three packages wrapped in wax paper. As they opened them, their hearts soared. These three packages were full of money. The first package was filled with 20’s, but the last two were all 50 and 100 dollar bills. The bills totaled more than $23,000, and many of the bills were incredibly rare, dating back to the late 1920s and ’30s. The suitcase was lined with newspaper from the 1950s, and that’s when the couple believes the suitcase was stashed.

14. Skeletons In The Ceiling

A horrific discovery was made recently by contractor who was doing renovations in a Montreal house. He found skeletal human remains stashed in the basement ceiling, and immediately contacted the coroner’s office. The coroner then determined that the bones were from a child’s body. The remains were wrapped in newspaper dating back almost a hundred years. The house was built in 1910, and the current occupants were horrified when they found out that bones had been in their attic since they moved in back in 1978. Now the current occupants are supplying documentation to the police in an effort to track down the previous owners. The newspapers that the bones were wrapped in could date from anywhere from 50 to 80 years ago. Neighbors are incredibly distressed as well, saying they can’t believe that they have lived so close to an unsolved murder and a body for so long without even realizing it.

13. Treasure, Plus Clues That Point To Even More

Have you ever heard of the famous “Fenn Treasure?” It’s somewhat of a legend in America, and it centers around rumors that an art dealer named Forest Fenn buried $3 million worth of gold and jewels somewhere in the Rocky Mountains. Countless people have tried to find it, and all have failed. But one young couple in Arizona thinks they’ve found clues to its real location while renovating their kitchen. When they first moved in, they found a mysterious code in their kitchen cabinet. They had no idea what it was for, but they kept it around, just in case. Later, when they renovated their kitchen, they found a safe buried under the floor. They tried the combination they had kept safe, and to their amazement, it worked. They opened the safe to find over $50,000 and a bottle of Bourbon from the year 1960. But the greatest treasure in the safe could prove to be the collection of strange clues they found. There was a bingo card with three numbers circled, a book with certain letters circled, and an “x” over the town of Mesa in Arizona. Fenn himself is still alive at 84 years of age, and he estimates about 30,000 people have tried and failed to find his treasure.

12. 600-Year-Old Buddha Rises From The Water

A seemingly routine renovation of a hydropower watergate in the Chinese province of Jiangxi revealed a stunning secret that had been lurking underneath the water the whole time. A perfectly preserved Buddha statue was first spotted by a villager when it poked its head out of the murky depths. As the water level fell a further 10 meters, the statue was revealed in greater detail. This statue is believed to be hundreds of years old, constructed during the Ming Dynasty, or possibly even the earlier Yuan Dynasty. It could also be just the tip of the iceberg, and it is now believed that the modern town is built on the ancient village of Xiaoshi, and it could mean an entire temple is waiting underneath the water’s surface. An underwater archaeological team will be exploring this in years to come. This statue is one of the last Buddha statues in China, as most like it were destroyed during China’s “cultural revolution” in the 1960’s. During this time, China ordered that people destroy old feudalistic symbols. The statue is in perfect condition, and experts believe that the water protected it from erosion.

11. Plumbers Strike Gold

A recently hired employee at a Calgary-based plumbing company in Canada struck gold while shoveling through some rubble during a bathroom renovation. He saw something shimmery, grabbed it, and quickly realized what he had found: A $50,000 (CAD) gold brick. But these guys were super honest, and they gave it to the homeowners. The owner of the plumbing company believes that the brick was stashed next to the jacuzzi, and was slowly moved by the vibration of the motor underneath the floorboards. He said in a statement, “We were pumped when we found it, of course. Seeing the economy the way it is right now, it kind of sucks that we had to give it back. Obviously we were going to do the right thing.” The guy who found the gold brick had just been laid off from his crane operating job days earlier, so he was in dire need of money when he gave the gold brick back.

10. $500,000 Cash Found, Court Orders It Be Returned

A huge legal battle broke out after a whopping $500,000 in cash was discovered by contractors who were working on renovations in Arizona. The cash was found stuffed inside military ammunition containers, and the contractors said that the cash was legally theirs. The homeowners, who had moved in just recently, said that the cash was on their property and thus belonged to them. But both parties were disappointed when the court ruled that neither of them should get the cash. Instead, the money would be returned to the heirs of the man who actually stashed in there in the first place. The man who hid the money, Robert Spann, died 11 years prior to the cash discovery. His two daughters, Kim and Karen, knew that he had hidden cash and were successful in finding some of it, but the main stash of $500,000 was too well-hidden for them to find. They later sold the house, and that’s when the contractors found the cash. Karen and Kim were later awarded the money after the police seized it from the contractors.

9. A Real Life Treasure Map Found

In a 170-year-old house, a couple living in Nova Scotia, Canada found something every kid dreams about: Real life treasure maps. And these maps were incredibly old. The couple were pulling up the rug to install new flooring, but as they peeled away the last layer, they were amazed to find several very old maps hidden between the layers of foam and linoleum. The maps were made by James Imray, a cartographer who was active in the latter part of the 19th century. Considering the house was built in 1830, the maps are more than 100 years old. The couple joked that they looked for an “x” for hours, but couldn’t find any signs pointed to buried treasure on the map. But why were the maps hidden so carefully if there was no treasure? There might be more secrets hidden on these maps than first meets the eye. Although the maps hold no clues to treasure, the maps themselves might be just as valuable. Some say these maps are worth up to $6,000.

8. Family Finds Horror Behind Their Walls

A family in Pennsylvania was trying to add insulation to their home, when they found something very strange in their house. They began to rip out the walls, when a bunch of animal carcasses came pouring out. A variety of different animals, all wrapped in newspaper, had been stuffed in the walls. The family was understandably horrified. Now they have to spend all their savings getting rid of this filth, and that’s not even the worse part. There’s still animal carcasses behind certain walls that would be too expensive for them to remove, so they just have to suffer through it. They bought the house because it seemed like they wouldn’t have to do any renovations… Boy, were they wrong. They tried to figure out why the animals had been stuffed down there, but it seems like a bit of a mystery. The animals were wrapped in newspapers from the 1930s, and the theory is that they were put their as part of a witchcraft ritual.

7. Ancient Skull Found During Renovation In Scotland

In the United Kingdom, there are many extremely old buildings. Many of these buildings hold very dark secrets. One of these buildings was discovered in Applecross, Wester Ross in Scotland. The building is ancient, and it is believed to be over 200 years old. Inside the building a skull was found while it was being renovated. Both the police and archaeology teams were called in to investigate. But after careful study, it was determined that no foul play was suspected. This might have been because of lack of evidence, but it also might have been due to the simple fact that the skull is so old. How can they track down the murderer when the crime happened hundreds of years ago? In any case, the skull has been named “ancient” by the archaeologists. No word on whether or not the house has been haunted, but I would imagine that this property would be a prime candidate for ghosts to terrorize.

6. Hidden Neon Light Left On For 77 Years

You may have heard about Los Angeles’ historic diner, Clifton’s Cafeteria. It’s one of the oldest establishments in Los Angeles, and it’s situated in a historic building. But when the owner renovated the bathroom, the last thing he expected to see behind the walls he was ripping down was a neon light. And the weirdest thing? It was still on.

Now experts are saying that it had probably been on for 77 years straight, making it the longest lit neon light in the world. The owner suspects the light was first lit in 1935, when the building was converted into a “forest-themed” diner. But the owner’s wonder quickly faded into suspicion, as he finally realized that he had probably paid an estimated $17,000 in electrical bills because of the light. This is making a lot of experts scratch their heads, as it’s incredibly rare for neon lights to work for longer than 40 years straight. This is just a slight hiccup in the multi-million dollar renovations, and after it’s done the cafeteria will be open 24/7.

5. Top Secret Nazi Documents Found In Apartment

One couple in Hungary was amazed to find some top-secret Nazi documents hidden in their walls when they decided to renovate. The walls proved to be a treasure trove of over 6,000 Nazi documents from the Third Reich. The documents contain details about the holocaust. Specifically, the documents were a census to count Jews and designate homes which they could be moved into, before they were consequently moved into ghettos within Budapest.

Scholars are loving this new insight into the past, as documents of this kind are very rare. Most of these documents were destroyed by the Nazis when it became obvious that they would fall into enemy hands. But whoever was in charge of these papers decided to hide them in the walls instead of actually destroying them. The census was undertaken two months prior to Nazi occupation of Hungary; 600,000 Hungarian Jews died in the holocaust, according to official numbers.

4. Hand Grenade Found In Forgotten Cupboard

Of all the things you don’t want to find while renovating your house, an unexploded hand grenade is probably pretty high up on the list. But that’s exactly what a mom and son found when they were clearing out grandma’s garage. The incident happened in Sydney, Australia, and in the end, the Australian military had to be called in so the grenade could be safely removed.

They later found out that the bomb had no fuse, and the explosives had been removed a long time ago. But that didn’t stop it from giving the mom and son a huge fright, as they had no idea whether the grenade was active or not when they found it. The house belonged to a 91-year-old woman whose husband, now deceased, had been a soldier during World War 2. The grenade still had its pin attached when it was found, and the entire area was cordoned off and evacuated by the police while the Australian military was examining the grenade.

3. They Found An Entire Mosque Inside Their House

If you thought finding a hand grenade was weird, wait till you hear this one. Finding an entire mosque hidden in your house? Well that’s just bordering on ridiculous. But you know what they say, truth is stranger than fiction, and this actually happened. 

This unbelievable incident happened in Palermo, Italy. Owners of an apartment were doing some renovation work, and they decided to knock down one of the walls in order to make a room bigger. But when they tore away the walls, they found something odd – wet plaster. They realized that something must be leaking, and they cleaned away the moisture. To their amazement, they found Arabic writing on the wall. They examined more of the walls, and realized that this Arabic writing, in stunning gold and silver, was on all four of the walls. An expert historian was called in, and he told them the truth: This room was once a mosque from the time of the crusades. The couple completely excavated the mosque, and decided to keep it as it was. Out of respect, they only put one sofa in the room, and do not serve alcoholic beverages when inside.

2. Family Finds Ancient Mayan Paintings Behind Walls

A family in Guatemala found something just as interesting as a mosque when they tore away their walls, and something just as beautiful. The family was stunned to find ancient Mayan murals hidden within their home, a culture that is thousands of years old. One Guatemalan man decided to chip away at the plaster in his kitchen as part of a home renovation, and that’s when he discovered the stunning secret hidden on his walls. The paintings seem to depict a confrontation between the Mayan and the invading Spanish Conquistadors, with one of the Mayans holding a human heart in his hand.

Experts say that it could represent a “conquest dance,” a ritual that tells the story of the conquest of the Mayan civilization by the west, and their conversion to Christianity. The house where these paintings were found was built about 300 years ago, and historians believe that the house was originally inhabited by a member of Mayan nobility.

1. Secret Spy’s Stash With Machine Gun Found In Home

It’s not every day that you find out that a secret agent had been living in your house. And it’s even rarer that you find out that the secret agent who had been living there was an old, “unassuming” elderly lady.

A family discovered all this when they were doing renovations on their home.  They stumbled upon a stash of spy-related items that you might expect from a movie or video game. They found a Sten sub-machine gun along with classified photos of Berlin following the bombing of World War 2, and other documents and telegrams from Her Majesty’s Secret Service and The War Office. The woman, whose name was Eileen Burgoyne, was 98 years old when she died, and lived an amazing life. She operated as a shadow agent throughout Germany, Spain, Gibraltar, and Africa. She was hired after the Second World War, and was presumably integral to the Cold War effort. The authorities had to be called in to dispose of the sub-machine gun when it was stumbled upon by the unwitting family.

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