In the back corner of the front hall closet, I discovered a small square section of the wall that had been cut out and then nailed back together. I pried it out and peered into the space below the staircase (see below).
In addition to the pine cones cached by chipmunks or squirrels and the ancient spiderwebs long ago abandoned by spiders, I noticed a very dusty pile of paper. It turned out to be a newspaper…the Boston Post published on August 1st, 1910.
This fragile piece of history supports the assertion from the real estate agency that our house was built in 1910. Builders of houses with hollow Newell posts sometimes left rolled up construction plans inside the Newell posts — maybe because ours is solid rather than hollow, they instead left a newspaper underneath the Newell post!