In-wall, wooden vent-like object between wall studs in ~100 year old house, but not open to the air outside! Any idea?

A questioner said:

My title describes the thing. We found this when opening up the walls in our ~100 year old house. It’s about 1.5 feet high, made of wood, no writing. From what I could tell, there is no patched up piece of wall on the outside of the house where these are located, although it’s conceivable they put stucco over it sometime since it was first used.

I’ve searched online assuming it is some sort of vent, although I struck out (and couldn’t figure out why you would have a vent that was the depth of the studs and therefore would be fully covered by the plasterboard / lathe.

r/whatisthisthing - In-wall, wooden vent-like object between wall studs in ~100 year old house, but not open to the air outside

r/whatisthisthing - In-wall, wooden vent-like object between wall studs in ~100 year old house, but not open to the air outside

Some of the answers:

    1. Probably a cold store, usually a cupboard in the kitchen that was vented extend perishable food life. There would have been a mesh or sack over the vent to stop bugs and may have had a corresponding vent at the top. It could also be a vent for cooling a slab. Kindof the same deal, all stuff pre fridge days. Usually called cold store, dry pantry, larder, meat locker ,etc. Hundred of names for the same thing. A cold place for stuff
    2. To expand on this, the vents would of course have been open to the outside at one point. There would have been slatted or screened shelves, and convection would draw cool air through the bottom, and vent hot air out the top. Out west it’s commonly called a “California cooler” undefined
    3. I’m amazed milk could be kept fresh with just a wet cloth wrapped around it
    4. Evaporative cooling is amazing. Works like a champ and comes in clutch when you get so hot you feel like giving up. Unless you’re in a humid place. Then I just give up.
    5. I think the ice blocks lasted about a week, at about 3 cubic feet they should last more than a day.
    6. Dropped in to say (per my Dad born in 1924) the ice was delivered weekly – most of the year, except at the hottest times when he would visit twice. His grandparents lived out in the country with no electricity and relied on an icebox well into the 1930s. He was fascinated because they had an electric refrigerator at home. The Iceman pulled up, his grandmother would go out and tell him if she needed a 25 lb or 50 lb or even 75lbs block of ice – he would cut the block of ice and carry it in and put in the ice box. They had an “Ice house” too – food storage dug out into a berm, lined with bricks and roofed over. It was dug into a hillside and you took a few steps down to get in the ice house – it had a nice tight door and roof to keep animals out. This was Pennsylvania in the 1920s-1930s.
    7. I have this exact thing in the attic of my 1922 house. But mine has a mesh grate/screen on the inside and it’s open to the outside. The horizontal pieces are slanted so birds can’t roost on them.
    8. It WAS open to the air but they added an addition
    9. Reusing ‘old’ wood maybe

    What do you think? Let us know in the comment!

    Nestled within the confines of a century-old house lies a peculiar architectural anomaly—an in-wall, wooden vent-like object tucked snugly between the wall studs, yet mysteriously disconnected from the exterior environment. This enigmatic structure, seemingly devoid of practical purpose, beckons the curious to unravel its secrets and unveil its significance in the tapestry of history.

    In the realm of historical architecture, every nook and cranny tells a story, bearing witness to the evolution of design, technology, and human ingenuity. The presence of the in-wall wooden vent within the aged walls of the house serves as a testament to the craftsmanship and foresight of generations past, hinting at a bygone era where functionality intertwined seamlessly with aesthetic appeal.

    At first glance, the purpose of this vent-like object may elude casual observers. Unlike conventional vents designed to facilitate airflow and ventilation, this wooden structure stands isolated, its purpose veiled in ambiguity. However, upon closer examination and delving into the annals of architectural history, potential explanations begin to emerge.

    One plausible theory suggests that the in-wall wooden vent served as a conduit for heat distribution in an era predating modern heating systems. In the absence of central heating or ductwork, houses of yesteryears relied on innovative methods to circulate warmth throughout living spaces. This vent, strategically positioned within the walls, may have facilitated the transfer of heat from one room to another, harnessing the natural convection currents to maintain a comfortable indoor environment.

    Another hypothesis posits that the wooden structure could have functioned as a part of an antiquated plumbing or drainage system. In an age where plumbing technology was rudimentary, houses often incorporated makeshift solutions to channel wastewater away from living spaces. The in-wall vent may have served as an integral component of such a system, allowing for the passage of water or sewage without compromising the structural integrity of the house.

    Alternatively, the vent-like object may have served a ceremonial or symbolic purpose, reflecting the prevailing cultural norms and beliefs of the time. In an era characterized by superstition and ritualistic practices, architectural elements were often imbued with symbolic significance, serving as conduits for spiritual energy or metaphysical forces.

    As we embark on a journey to unravel the mysteries of the in-wall wooden vent, we are reminded of the rich tapestry of history woven into the fabric of our built environment. Each architectural anomaly serves as a window to the past, offering glimpses into the lives, aspirations, and innovations of those who came before us.

    In the end, the true significance of the in-wall wooden vent transcends its utilitarian function—it is a testament to human ingenuity, resilience, and the enduring quest for knowledge. As we stand in awe of this architectural relic, we are reminded of the timeless adage: the past is not dead, it is living within us, waiting to be discovered and cherished for generations to come.


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