QUEENSBURY -- Like many renovating an old home, Jim and Judy Tholl always hoped to find a million dollars stashed in a wall, but $15,000 in the ceiling will do.
On Monday, while starting to renovate the Tholls' kitchen at 1208 Ridge Road, Tom Albrecht, president and CEO of Hilltop Construction Co. of Kingsbury, said his son found a brown paper bag full of hundred dollar bills in the ceiling when he moved an access panel above the kitchen cabinets.
"He threw it to another one of the guys and said, ‘Here's a bag of money,' just joking around. The other guy opened it and it was, in fact, a bag of money," Albrecht said. "My son brought it back to the office and I said, ‘We have to bring this back to the owner. They own this, not us.' "
The currency, which Albrecht originally thought amounted to $20,000, was dated back to the 1960s. The hundred dollar bills were separated in stacks of 10 and bound with bank wrappers.
"Years ago, people used to not put money in the bank. Figuratively speaking, they used to hide it under their pillow, but in this case they stashed it away," Albrecht said.
On Wednesday morning, Judy Tholl said she hadn't had a chance to really think about the money or where it came from.
Just 10 minutes after Albrecht handed her what was actually $15,000 on Tuesday, Tholl said she took her 17-year-old daughter to visit colleges.
Tholl said both she and her husband were in shock.
"We didn't believe it," she said. "We've been doing quite a bit of remodeling work on the house and every time we start something I say, ‘Maybe we'll find a million dollars in the wall,' " she said.
But the only thing Tholl said they had found, up until now, was a letter from one girl to another, dated 1971.
In 1991, Tholl, then known as Judy Riccio, purchased the property with her former husband.
Tholl said she doesn't have any plans to contact the previous owner, who she said is still alive.
"My feeling is, it was here before her," she said, referring to the cash.
Joseph and Ellen Pezzi, who records show as being "from Matindale," originally purchased the property in 1964 and no other owners are listed before them on the property record.
With the kitchen renovations expected to cost an estimated $50,000 and the garage next on the list for remodeling projects, Tholl said she and her husband plan to put the money toward renovations.
Although the crew of the Kingsbury construction company has uncovered some strange things, including snake skins, on job sites before, nothing will measure up to finding that amount of money, Albrecht said.
This is the second job the Tholls said that Hilltop has done for them.
"I've been impressed with their workmanship and, now, I'd like to say, I'm impressed with their integrity, too," she said.