Annunciator Update

In 2018, I did two posts (here and here) about Blair discovering that the Cross House had an annunciator system originally.

There was no question that I would reinstate this. No question!

So, for the last two years I have been searching for an annunciator box. And…drum roll, please…I may have found one.


A ten-call box is coming up for auction. I need an eight-call, but ten will be fine. What though is missing on top? Scary! And what are the little metal boxes?


The reset knob is not fully intact. So, OK, the box needs work. Do I dare bid? And how in the world would I get it back to working order?


In looking back at my 2018 posts, I had to laugh. I included this image, which is a 1889 Partrick, Carter and Wilkins eight-call Annunciator. It is obviously a slightly smaller version of the one coming up at auction, and shows what is missing.


I can replace the missing oak on the auction box, the bell, and reset finial.

But…how to get it working?

Thus, I wrote the Blair: “HELP!”

And Blair replied that he could restore an old annunciator to working order.


I am gonna bid on the auction box. And imagine my tremendous thrill at having a working annunciator system back at the Cross House.




  1. Leigh on March 4, 2021 at 2:53 am

    Announcing… the annunciator! Good luck, Ross. Here’s hoping that you are the only bidder, thus, lowest price.

  2. Dan Goodall-Williams on March 4, 2021 at 3:04 am

    Ross, there is another one on ebay, however, it’s for 395.00 but seems to be intact. Also is 8.

  3. Miriam R Righter on March 4, 2021 at 7:11 am

    Do you have the dimensions? I may have a brass bell that would work.

  4. Debbie Stevens on March 4, 2021 at 9:07 am

    Hey Ross – I have one of these in my house, as well. I think it’s so cool to ring the bell! I hope you get the one at auction. I would be excited, as well. 🙂

  5. Debbie Stevens on March 4, 2021 at 9:30 am

    Hey Ross – There are several of them on Ebay. Listed under “Servants Call Box” Here’s an 8 stop one…..

    • Ross on March 4, 2021 at 10:11 am

      Oh! How exciting! Thank you, Debbie!

      The box doesn’t seem to have a “reset” knob. I wonder how the box is then reset?

    • David F. on March 4, 2021 at 10:43 am

      You beat me to it, Debbie. I was just getting ready to send the same link. Great minds….

  6. Mike on March 4, 2021 at 9:43 am

    This is great, but I am curious; in 2018, you stated that you would need an annunciator that would service at least a dozen “calls”, but now you are going with eight. Will that be enough? Even though you may not have a staff in the servants’ hall awaiting your every buzz, (“James, his Lordship is calling from the library”), I’m wondering which buzzers you have eliminated from your original plan…

    • Ross on March 4, 2021 at 10:07 am

      Mike, for some reason I thought I needed a 16-call box.

      I’ve no idea why!

      Here’s what I need:
      Dining Room. Two buzzers.
      Round Bedroom
      Hexagon Bedroom
      Sewing Room
      Long Bedroom

      So, an 8-call box.

      There may have been a front door buzzer but nobody would hear the annunciator unless I have staff in the kitchen 24/7. So, I’m gonna install a regular doorbell system.

      • Mike on March 4, 2021 at 2:14 pm

        You just aren’t’ thinking straight…and you’ll pay for your mistake when you are unable to buzz for someone to bring you a roll of toilet paper…

  7. Cody H on March 4, 2021 at 12:47 pm

    Having a functioning annunciator bell system is really the cats ass. A certain house I’m familiar with has its system fully intact and is the most fun in the world to push a button and hear the corresponding bell ring far, far away on the opposite end of the house on another floor. It’s a novelty more than anything, but a super cool, turn of the century one at that, specific to a bygone era.

  8. Debbie Stevens on March 4, 2021 at 1:35 pm

    Hey Ross – They don’t always have a reset button. I have 2 in my house and neither one of them seem to have a reset button. I could send you a picture of mine but I need a new link. 🙂 ……(My house was built in 1927 so my boxes are newer than would’ve been original to your house.)

    • Ross on March 4, 2021 at 1:43 pm

      Debbie, without a reset pull, then what resets an arrow after a call?

  9. Debbie Stevens on March 4, 2021 at 1:53 pm

    The next time someone pushes a button the arrow goes to the next room. It doesn’t need a reset. At least the kind I have!

  10. Debbie Stevens on March 4, 2021 at 2:07 pm

    Hey Roos – I just sent you 2 photos of my annunciators to your [email protected] mailbox. Please look at them. Mine work well and this might help you out. 🙂

  11. Cindy Belanger on March 4, 2021 at 6:36 pm

    It would be so cool to have a working annunciator in the Cross House. Good luck, I hope you get a it for a good price.

  12. Suzanne on March 4, 2021 at 9:40 pm

    I love that you are bringing back the “technology” of the era of the Cross House!

  13. Barb Sanford on March 5, 2021 at 11:00 am

    So exciting! Imagine being able to add this to a tour. You could ring the bell in a handy first-floor room, and hear it in the kitchen or servant’s hall where the box is located. Such fun.

  14. Chris on March 5, 2021 at 12:24 pm

    squeeeeeeeee! Your posts make me want an annunciator… in case the dog needs to call me from the living room.

  15. Ragnar on March 5, 2021 at 6:30 pm

    These things aren’t rocket science. All they need is one solenoid for each flap (a coil that releases the flap when it’s gets power) and a bell. The supply goes from a simple doorbell transformer to all the buttons, from each button to the corresponding solenoid, from the solenoid to the bell and from the bell to the other terminal of the transformer. Unless one of the solenoid coils is burned out or broken or something is bent, the annunciator should work just fine, possibly with a drop of oil here and there.

    I own a ca. 1900 annunciator box made in Berlin with fancy timber box (5 buzzers) and gilded glass and a complete system from 1929 with 15 buzzers in two black metal enclosures (10+5), bell and transformer. A long-closed hotel nearby had the same style of metal annunciators but painted cream.

    I know a house built in 1960-61 which originally had an annunciator system with coloured light bulbs. According to a friend of mine who lived there the house was an architect’s attempt to prove that pre-fabricated concrete panels were suitable for luxury homes. Apart from the sheer size of the rooms and apartments, the whole house has strong vibes of council housing though, at least from today’s perspective.

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