Yes, stairs. They can say a lot about a place, in particular how it was built and how it was used. These particular stairs of a not-named building on island date to probably right after the Great Fire. The building was gutted in the fire but I like to think that perhaps these stairs are made from timbers that survived or were recycled from someplace else and thus maybe they are pre-fire in their date. That’s just wishful thinking but, you never know. New Englanders, and especially Nantucketers, were and are thrifty – especially if you live on an island 28 miles at sea. As an historian, and also something of a hoarder (only worthy stuff or historic or family items, you know), you never know when something – or part of that something – might come in handy or might be able to be re-used. A make-do to some degree. I’ve talked about make-dos here before – a broken item that finds new life as something else or is cleverly fixed to “make-do).
But in any case, you can see the wear on the treads and see the risers where a shoe – or more likely a boot – gave a kick as one took each step up towards the attic space. Unfinished because it is utilitarian – it’s not a stair at the front entry of a house to a second floor but a place that leads to storage – like an attic or a root cellar or even, a back stair meant for family-only. There could be remnants of red paint – like we have at Mitchell House on the attic stairs – but I didn’t have enough time to get down and take a close look (plus these days I need my glasses which I didn’t have!). There are some water stains as you go higher – not surprising – and you can see how the finish of the wood has been worn.
Can you hear the person trudging to the attic? I can. I feel like I can see them too.