Secret Rooms in your house

Hi Everyone!

I was just sitting here watching The Haunted Mansion on television, and I just watched the part where Eddie Murphy entered a secret passageway he discovered by accident (hidden of course behind a secret panel.)

It made me wonder, how many houses today have secret doors, secret passageways and secret rooms?

Do any fellow Dopers live in such a place now or have you ever lived in such a place? (It doesn’t have to be a haunted mansion either!)

Would you like to add a secret door, etc., to your place (if you could?)
They really add character to one’s dwelling, don’t-cha think???

Not my house, but one near my parents. A girl lived in it who was about a year younger than me, and there used to be a house across the main street but they tore it down and built a library. There was a secret door in each house, plus a tunnel under the street. Historically, it was from the underground railroad or something (ok, I heard that from our town drunk, but he was sober at the time!)

I thought it made the house specifically interesting, as they used it as a room for the kids to play in when they were little. You can get to the tunnel entrance but not inside it.

My grandmothers house had a built in the room that you had to access by crawling through a 2’x2’ door in the back of the closet. There was a light fixture, kids toys, and all that stuff. We called it the treehouse, even though it wasn’t in a tree. I think it was actually rafters and such that my cousins put boards on so they could go in.

Brendon Small

Another underground railroad story from Illinois.

A kid who lived in an old house near the river found a trap door in his bedroom closet when he was playing. The family had lived there for years and never knew about it. The father took a flashlight and saw an old ladder that was falling apart, leading down a shaft. It too was a tunnel, but had been sealed off decades before. Local historians said the house was once owned by a family rumored to have helped slaves get north. There was a write up about it when I was about 9 or 10 and I remember talking about it in school.

The house I grew up in had a lot of weird quirks, though none I’d describe as secret. It was a gigantic limestone house with a Spanish tile roof and wrought iron fences which was built way back in the day (I want to say 1920s but I think it might have been even earlier.) It is actually one of the city’s historical houses. Outside in a side yard, there was a hatch which led to a coal chute that fed the huge furnace (which originally burned coal.) In the basement, there was a very harrow, semi-hidden hallway that led to a colossal storage room (which was filled with old screens and chicken wire the entire time we lived there.) Another room in the basement was called the “gun room,” and two of the walls were totally taken up by custom-built wooden gun cases with glass panels covering the front. There was room for like 70 guns in there, even though we didn’t have any (my dad used the place as his office at one point.) In the fireplace upstairs, there was a trapdoor in the bottom which could be opened so the ashes would fall into a bin in the basement. My sister had an oval window in her closet that overlooked the front yard (the only closet window I’ve ever seen in my life.)

That house was insane. I loved it a lot. When I was 10 we moved to a larger but comparatively soulless house in the suburbs. Some day when I’m financially able, I hope to buy the house I grew up in and live in it again if it’s ever for sale.

Our house has a storage area under the stairs that’s accessed by a little door, maybe 2’ tall, made of the same material as the wall. if you didn’t know it was there you’d never notice it. I know we have stuff stored in there, but i haven’t seen it in 9 years.

My inlaws built a house in the 80s that had a 24’ high cathedral ceiling in the family room, so to break up that expanse, they added a balcony. One end of the balcony abutted some really great attic space, but instead of a door, my father-in-law designed and built a bookshelf that was a door (“Put the candle back!”) - Not so much a secret room as a secret entrance, but I thought it was pretty cool.

On new homes, a very small percentage, usually really high end homes. I have seen a few mid 700’s and up with a secret entrance, (A door hidden by a bookcase section.) It’s just an extra cost most people aren’t willing to pay for.

On some higher end homes, if the architect is creative and the homeowner wants it, I have seen hidden passages and rooms. Safe rooms as well. Still pretty rare.

There were lots of secret doors, drawers and cubbyholes in a upside-down pirate-like house down the street in my childhood. I believe it was owned by Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle. We used to go there on rainy days and hunt for gold.

We have a secret storage room. It’s accessed behind a built-in bookshelf. Problem is, you have to take all the books off the bookshelf and pull out a shelf or two to get into it. No “pull the candlestick and the shelf rotates” thing for us.

For this reason, I’ve never been in it, and there’s nothing in there.

Guess it’s not so secret anymore.

<Checks location> OK, you’re not talking about where I live. Actually, in our situation we have a small walk-in closet, and in the back there’s the same kind of panel; that portion runs under stairs.

I always thought that if I were very wealthy I would build a secret passage way behind the bookcase. It just seems like fun.

I have a friend who is a realtor and she said that she once had to sell a house built by an architect that had a den behind a bookcase. She said men would go “cool” but women almost universally hated it. She said it was a hard house to sell because of it.

What?! I’d lOVE that! If I ever get to where I can design a house, it will absolutely have secret passageways.

Of course. Women hate ANYTHING that makes men go “cool!”.

She could have kept her mouth shut, when it came to the women. They’d have wanted the house, and strange enough their husbands would have wanted it.

My childhood home was added onto a few times in it’s history. There are a few places that are not completely hidden, if you looked everywhere. There were a couple places that were good hide outs. The basement is is three separate sections. The middle one is accessed through one that is accessed from outside. Attic alcoves exist that are at the end of long cramped runs through the rafters. A fat adult wouldn’t get through. Did I mention it crosses a stairwell hole. You can go down into a section a couple feet high between the ceiling of one stair and the underside of another.

My house has one of those tiny rooms off the attic, accessed through a tiny crawlway that isn’t hidden, except when junk gets shoved in front of it. We used to store all the Christmas stuff in there, and it was a play area for us kids…we call it the pirate’s den. I’m not sure what’s in it now, but I’m going to check later, especially since I can fit in there again!

My friend’s have one of those high-end houses with a room hidden behind a bookcase in the music room (which is next to the family room and the home theater and the spare bedroom in the basement.) They use the"hidden" room as a playroom for the kids…it’s huge, and there’s a computer for each of the three kids, plus every Lego ever sold…it’s really a huge room…bigger than my whole living space.

We built an entertainment center about 6ft off the back wall of the room. It holds two bookshelves and a big screen TV. The right hand book shelf revolves and allows access behind the TV. We call it the ScoobyDoo book case.

We have two small attic areas under the dormer windows. I’m sure my daughter will love it when she’s older.

My aunt & uncle had a house in the Detroit area that was once owned by rum-runners during prohibition. It had a secret staircase.

I wish mine was something really cool and creepy, but basically:

a) Our roof being pointed and our second-story ceilings being flat, we have a tiny, windowless crawlspace above our heads. There’s no way to get into it, as far as I know, but it makes for some interesting acoustics when it rains (or when squirrels climb over the roof tiles).

b) There’s an alcove down in our basement, some sort of closet thing, that we knocked down the door of. I think we store paint in there now.

(Oh, and I’d go for at least three or four secret passages, more if I could get them.)

A friend of mine recently built a house with two secret rooms. One is in her son’s room- move a swinging bookshelf and find a 10x10 playroom. The other room is also hidden behind a swinging bookshelf that leads to a stairway that goes upstairs. The hidden entry is the only way to get upstairs in that part of the house.

I have a storage space over my back stairs, I keep
Christmas things, etc in it. It has some shelves that take up stace, and has a closet rod in it… But its about 10 feet from the floor, and you have to more or less crawl around a ceiling fan to get to it. The back wall of this storage space is the back wall of my linen closet. So yeah, I want to renovate it, and have a secret door from behind my linen closet into the storage attic. How cool will that be? Then when my son is older, I can make it into a loft/playroom for him. Even cooler!