Homeowner finds hidden room, staircase

Man uncovers secrets while renovating basement wall in his 1890 home


Carl Thoms, of Terre Haute, points to a basement wall that hides a hidden room in his home on Sunday on Mulberry Street in Terre Haute. Buy Photos

A friend of Carl Thoms was recently working on plumbing in the 1890 home’s basement when he noticed he could see around those pipes into a hidden room covered in tiles.

He also spotted a staircase – a discovery that led Thoms to a bedroom off of the home’s kitchen, where he pried up some floorboards and accessed the stairs.

At the bottom of the stairs, Thoms found himself in a walled-off 10-foot-square room covered in tiles that at first made him think the room might have once been a tiled sauna.

But he also wonders whether it might have been a bootlegging room during Prohibition, or any number of possibilities.

“You never know what it could have been,” Thoms said. “It’s really cool to find something like that.”

He said the room appears to have been intentionally walled off from the rest of the basement but that it’s difficult to date the blocks used to wall it up because they appear old. The stairs might have once been accessed through the bedroom via a trap door that no longer exists.

Thoms began renovating the 886-square-foot house near the city’s downtown for him, his wife and their four children after buying it in 2007.

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