WHITEHALL, Mich. — You never know what you might find when you slip into the crawl space of an old home in West Michigan—sometimes you're bound to come across a little piece of history just waiting to be rediscovered.
About a week and a half ago, the folks at EightCAP in Sydney Township made a once-in-a-lifetime discovery when going through a home in Whitehall.
“I mean, you find some antiques in crawl spaces and stuff like that but never an organ,” Kyle Welter, energy program manager at EightCAP, told FOX 17 Wednesday afternoon.
They certainly weren't expecting what they found inside the triplex unit they were working on winterizing.
EightCAP is a community action organization, funded by a federal grant, that works to make homes more energy efficient.
"It was a rental unit, and we were working with the landlord. He asked us to come out to do this building, and we walked in and my home auditor went out there and took a look at it and says, 'I think we can do it,'" Welter explained.
One of their employees, a man named Jeremy, was checking out the building's crawl space.
“He's like, 'Man, there's a lot of stuff in this crawl space,'" Welter said.
He told Jeremy to start filling up a dumpster like they typically do—but that crawl space was completely full.
They just didn't know what it was full of at that point.
“He goes through and come to find out, he finds a plaque... and the plaque had a name on it.”
Carl Barckhoff—Salem, Ohio
That name and location was all that Jeremy had to go on to solve the mystery of what he had found.
After some searches online, Jeremy found himself staring at a page on the Pipe Organ Database that listed an organ that was once located in a Whitehall church, made by a Carl Barckhoff.
The website lists that organ's location as unknown.
“There was no ivory, there was no pipes. It was just the wood, and it looked like it had been busted up and thrown underneath there,” Welter said Wednesday.
Sadly there was very little left of the organ after spending several decades in a crawl space.
“It was kind of crazy to know that this is out there, and that you never knew where it was,” Welter said.
They have been reaching out to churches in the area to try and nail down its origin. They are hoping to give the plaque back to its original owners.
Welter says, “It was a great story to talk about... you gave a piece of history back to a church that knew they had it, but they didn't know where it went.”