After purchasing a house in New York state in December 2020, David Whitcomb planned on using it for his law offices. It wasn’t until later that he and a friend started exploring on the upper floor and discovered that the building actually had an attic.
Even better for Whitcomb, the attic was full of historical treasures.
Whitcomb discussed his find with Fox News, explaining that he bought the building in Geneva and planned on using the first two floors as office space. The third floor, he explained, was meant to be apartment space but had not been occupied for 30 years.
It needed to be stripped down to the studs and repaired, Whitcomb said. When a friend came by to help change a lightbulb, however, they noticed that a damaged area of the ceiling looked like it had floorboards above it. It turned out, there was an attic that Whitcomb had no idea was part of the house.
“It wasn’t in the paperwork,” he said, “and we didn’t do an inspection because we knew the apartment needed to be repaired.”
Initially, Whitcomb says he didn’t realize what was in the attic. After inspecting it, however, he discovered that the attic was actually a former photography studio. Based on paperwork he found, it was determined that the studio belonged to photographer James Hale.
Hale is famous for taking a photograph of Susan B. Anthony that serves as her official portrait in the U.S. Library of Congress.
Amazingly, Whitcomb found the original print of the famous photo in his attic.
The attic is full of old–fashioned photography equipment, along with negatives and outtakes from photoshoots, including more pictures taken of Susan B. Anthony. According to Whitcomb, one of the most fun parts of the discovery has been watching photography experts come by to examine the vintage equipment from the early days of the trade.
Whitcomb is auctioning off many of the valuable items he’s found in the attic starting in mid-September. He says it’s taken some time to get everything ready. Not only did he have to work with experts to identify many of the objects, he also had to clean ash off of the items. Apparently, one of the nextdoor buildings caught fire in the ‘80s and damaged the hidden attic.