The Cross House
Yesterday, Blair came to the Cross House for a tour, as detailed in my previous post.
Blair and his wife, Beth, own a big house built in 1900, so they have plenty of experience with old houses.
As we walked through the many rooms, we stepped into the kitchen which is, like most of the rooms, a ruin. Blair looked around, and then up. He pointed to something tucked between the ceiling joists, and excitement rose in his voice. I, too, looked up, but what was Blair excited about?
But Blair explained that the grouping of wires was not JUST any old wires, but rather call wires.
Blair explained further: “Those wires meant that the Cross House originally had a call system. So, there would have been like a half-dozen door-bell-like buttons in the house, so that the family could “”call” a servant from the kitchen. Like the call bells you see in Downtown Abbey, but instead of bells you would have had an annunciator.”
Oh! I knew what an annunciator was!
So, Susan Cross could press a button in, say, her sewing room, and the little arrow on the annunciator would move and point to SEWING ROOM. (Or, a small light bulb would glow next to SEWING ROOM).
OK. I was now officially, tremendously, and fabulously excited.
Blair asked: “Do you have any door-bell-like hardware inside the house?”
Why, yes. Yes I did.
Blair was excited, because he looked at the wire connected to it and said: “This is almost certainly original to the house, and was connected to the annunciator.”
Golly. I had no idea.
We then ran all over the house looking for more wires. We found one leading to the octagon bedroom, but could not ascertain where it ended up in the bedroom.
And now I have a mission: Try and trace all the call wires laced throughout the house.
A noble mission! An exciting mission!
I had noted, sorta, these wires previously. They are thinner than electrical wires as they were part of a low-voltage system. I had assumed they were installed during the 1929 apartment conversion as each apartment had a doorbell inside, connecting to a buzzer at one of the entrance doors.
And it all made sense suddenly. Of course the highly advanced Cross House had a call system with an annunciator in the kitchen. Of course. The house was as new-fangled as could be in 1894. How did I never once think: What happened to the call system?
Ross is a ding-dong.
I am astonished by Blair’s discovery. And there is zero doubt that I will recreate this lost feature, including the purchase of a restored annunciator. The lack of servants be damned!