Starting at a young age, I have been drawn to attics. My grandparents on both sides of the family had wonderful attics to play in, and on rainy or cold days when the grownups wanted to be left alone, they would suggest we head to the attic. And oh!, the treasures there! Outgrown or out of season clothes (dress up!), boxes of dusty books (story time!), antique box cameras (photo shoot!), a trunk of marionettes with tangled strings (puppet show!), old furniture, dishes, and mattresses (let’s play house!), and so many other wonderful things to keep us, and our imaginations, busy.
Some of my favorite books have been partially set in attics: The Little Wooden Doll, The Owl Service, A Little Princess, Jane Eyre. Attics can evoke fear or fantasy, dread or curiosity. I have never met an attic I didn’t like, even if I rushed down the stairs when I was done exploring and the light had been turned out.
I recently was invited to explore the attic at the Hyannis Public Library, one of the seven village libraries in the Town of Barnstable (I work at another one of the seven, Sturgis Library). They are getting organized and planning for a library expansion and renovation project, and had discovered that the attic in the historic portion of their building was filled with books and other items that they hadn’t been aware of. Knowing my experience with antiquarian books, archives, and all things old, they invited me to take a look and advise them on the years of amassed items.
And so I spent several afternoons immersed in the past, happily sorting, discovering, photographing, (and getting covered with years of dust!).
So next time you’re in an old house or building, explore the attic. There be treasures there.