So Tom started looking at the house's structure — both what was visible and what was exposed by demolition being done for the renovation. Examining the foundation, he checked for seams or changes in materials from poured concrete to, say, concrete block. But it was clear that the foundation was poured all at once. "Back then, they laid up forms with horizontal boards," he explained. "You can follow the wood grain's impression in the concrete right around the house."

Moving up to the living spaces, Tom looked for changes on the moldings and millwork. "Sometimes something as subtle as a door hinge tells a lot," he said. "You might see stamped steel hinges on one door and cast brass on the others." But all the doors were consistent, including those inside the cantilever.

That feature particularly vexed Tom. His first thought was that it was added on for more space off the master bedroom, as a nursery or maybe a dressing room. His investigations, however, uncovered a surprise: Contrary to everyone's hunches, the cantilever is original. The framing and the sheathing between the main house and the overhang were contiguous. Same thing for the rafters. "The carpenters built a simple truss to support the longer rafters over the cantilever, but it was all done by the same crew when the rest of the roof was framed," he said. "I never would have guessed it." The "room to nowhere" wasn't as simple to decipher. Its doorway had a wide, sloped threshold — which meant that it was once an exterior door — and the walls were sided. Yet the room was completely enclosed.

It wasn't until the siding came down that Tom got some answers. A doorway to the living room had been patched over, as had a small square window into the kitchen. "The door gives purpose to the room," said Tom. "It would have been used as a small sitting area off the living room — not an uncommon Colonial Revival feature — with a roof to block the afternoon sun. And the window would throw some light into the back hall. It makes perfect sense."

Aside from this little room, it turned out that the Winchester house was largely unchanged from the way it was built, quirks and all. Still, Kim and Bruce were happy to have learned what they did. "Even though we didn't find any earth-shattering changes, we learned a lot about the house's history," said Kim. "And if we didn't know," said Tom, "we always would have wondered."
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