A homeowner was left baffled after making an unusual discovery in the basement of the 170-year-old house he and his partner recently purchased.
When Josh Pratt and his partner moved into the house, he expected to find a few surprises. After all, the internet is filled with stories about people discovering secret rooms, hidden wells and windows where there really shouldn’t be any.
Though most of this can be explained away, there have been the occasional instances where the discoveries have sent a shiver down the spine of those who uncovered them. In many instances, this is due to the location of the discoveries, which are often made in attics and basements.
A survey of 2,000 homeowners conducted by foundation repair service Groundworks found that 46 percent of respondents considered basements to be the scariest room in the house, with 32 percent ranking attics as the most unsettling.
All of which probably explains why Pratt was left unsettled by what he found. “We just moved into a house from the mid-1800s,” he told Newsweek. “I saw these containers in the spooky basement the first time we came to see the house. I had no idea what they were for.”
The large, concrete-based containers certainly made for an intimidating sight, particularly because their use wasn’t yet clear. But Pratt wasn’t overly concerned.
“I wouldn’t say they scared me, though they do inspire some dark imagination. But they made me curious,” he said. Figuring there would be “other people with old homes” on the internet, he decided to share a few pictures of the containers to Reddit in the hope of finding out what they were for.
Some commentators, of course, ran wild. One claimed the containers were used as an “alligator pit,” while another thought they were used for keeping eels. Someone else joked about a “swimming pool for ghosts.”
“Definitely the beginning stages of a mass grave,” an especially morbid Redditor quipped, with another concurring: “I’ve seen this in one of the many horror films I’ve seen. It was for not good things.”
Thankfully, in another reminder of how useful the internet can be, Pratt eventually got his answer: The containers were part of a cistern.
“It turns out that this was a common method of collecting and storing water in the past,” he said. “Water from the roof gutters was piped into the first container, which likely acted as a settling tank, and water from that tank would pour over the top of the dividing wall via a small notch into the second tank, where there was a low spot for a pump or bucket.”
He added: “The house has a well that was used for drinking water, and this rainwater was likely used for washing and all other needs.”
Pratt doesn’t plan on using the containers in that way again, of course. To do so would likely cause havoc in terms of the humidity and general levels of moisture in his home.
However, despite their unusual appearance, he is planning on leaving them as they are.
“They are a cool piece of history, though, so I plan on keeping them,” he said. “I may use them for cold storage or just clean them up and leave them for future folks to wonder about.”