Owner Stunned After Finding Secret Hidden Room in Her 1890s Home

By: Julia Mehalko | Published: Jun 27, 2024

A homeowner was left stunned after finding a secret hidden room in her newly bought 1890s bungalow in northern Illinois.

Taking to Reddit, this homeowner explained how a closed door was found in a corner of her home’s basement and was originally covered up behind a wooden wardrobe. After moving this wardrobe aside, she was shocked to uncover what was behind this sealed door.

Buying the Perfect Home

This remarkable story began when Felicia Lalla started to search for her perfect home in 2022. Eventually, she settled on a home that was first built in the 1890s.

A door in a dark hallway opened up with red light coming out of it.

Source: Dima Pechurin/Unsplash

When looking around this bungalow, prior to purchasing it, Lalla’s realtor pointed out that there appeared to be an odd section of the basement where a wooden wardrobe sat.


A Sealed Door Behind a Heavy Wardrobe

According to Lalla, they could see that there was a closed door behind this very heavy wardrobe.

A close-up of a very old door lock and handle.

Source: Alexander Rumpel/Unsplash

Lalla said, “She could see, through a slit between the side of the wardrobe and the wall, that there was a door behind it. When we spoke to the seller, he said that he didn’t have the key to the door and it hadn’t been accessed in decades.”

A Superstitious Answer

Meanwhile, on Reddit, Lalla posted her story to r/centuryhomes and explained to a commenter the seller’s odd response to their questioning about this locked door.

A close-up of an old door handle.

Source: Nick Tiemeyer/Unsplash

She wrote, “My realtor asked the owner if they’d ever looked behind the wardrobe, to which he gave a superstitious answer about opening things best left sealed.”

Opening Up the Secret Room

After Lalla ended up buying her perfect home, the first thing she did was drive to her newly-bought bungalow and move aside the wardrobe to find out if a door really was behind it.

A secret room discovered in an old home, with a cabinet seen before a doorway.

Source: Thin_Dog4184/Reddit

She explained, “The very first thing I did was — with no small effort — drag the wardrobe out of the way and, sure enough, there was a door right there.”

A Stunning Revelation

Once Lalla was able to open this door, she found a hidden room containing various objects from back in the day.

A close-up of an old newspaper clipping.

Source: Thin_Dog4184/Reddit

“We found a few newspaper clippings, pictures, photography paraphernalia, postcards, and a dental radiography book,” she said.


Discovering a Darkroom

Lalla further explained that her sister came over to look through the room together, and they both realized that this hidden, secret room was actually an old darkroom that was used to develop photographs.

A map drawing of where a secret darkroom was.

Source: Thin_Dog4184/Reddit

Lalla stated, “The thing that caught my eye the most was a large machine tucked neatly into the corner of the room. After doing some research… I learned that it was a photo enlarger for black and white photography.”


Learning More About Her Findings

After discovering many newspaper clippings and photographs, Lalla went to many local libraries to learn more about the many items now in her possession.

A close-up on old newspaper clippings.

Source: Thin_Dog4184/Reddit

She has since found out that many of the article clippings were from historical events back in the day that the previous home’s owner thought were important to save.


Donating Antique Photography Equipment

While Lalla has stated that she has an appreciation for the antique photography equipment that she has discovered in her home, she also wants to be able to share it with others.

Two photos of old photography equipment in a darkroom.

Source: Thin_Dog4184/Reddit

As a result, she’s reached out to local schools in the area to see if they’d like some of this very old photography equipment.


Sharing Her Discovery

While at first Lalla simply kept this interesting discovery to herself, she eventually decided to share photos and information about her home’s secret darkroom on Reddit.

A view of many old objects on a table in an old home.

Source: Thin_Dog4184/Reddit

After posting her story, Lalla was bombarded with many commentators wanting to know more about this intriguing old room.


A Viral Story

Lalla’s story quickly became popular on Reddit, as many social media users wanted to know more about her discovery.

A close-up of many old papers and objects.

Source: Thin_Dog4184/Reddit

Commentators were also quick to talk about how interesting her find was — and how they were jealous that their homes didn’t come with a hidden, secret door behind a heavy wardrobe.


Other Darkroom Discoveries

Other commentators explained that their old homes also had darkrooms — but they weren’t nearly as spooky as Lalla’s discovery.

A view of red walls of a darkroom.

Source: Vladimir Fedotov/Unsplash

One user wrote, “This would have been my dream to grow up in if we could’ve afforded the equipment to fully outfit it. My current 1909 house has a basement room that had been used as a darkroom before but it has a window and isn’t spooky like yours.”