Will You Join Me in the Butler’s Pantry?


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Last year I did a post on some of the mysteries regarding the butler’s pantry in the Cross House. Today, I would like to talk about the sink cabinet. Please, won’t you join me?



Well, the AS BUILT proved a lot more attractive than the AS DRAWN. I just love the curved corner. Which is really necessary as you sweep past this corner going from the dining room door (to the left) to the kitchen door (to the right). Note how the wood wainscoting is painted.



The counter is also a drainboard! LOVE IT! And I am itchin’ to refinish it!



The sweet sweet sweet sink is copper!!!!!! I am itchin’ to polish it! Note the missing hot/cold faucets. I am itchin’ to replace them!



Today, for the first time, I thought: What is under the sink? So I opened one of the doors (which was badly stuck closed) and peered inside. Golly! UNPAINTED wainscoting! Oh baby, now I am itchin’ to refinish the wainscoting!



Incredibly, the original 1894 drain is in situ!!!!!!! I sooooooo plan on keeping this. The copper piping was installed by the previous owner, Bob.



The rest of the cabinets in the pantry have doors. When somebody painted the wainscoting they also painted, partially, the doors. They left the center panels varnished. Weird.



If you open the doors however, they reveal glorious UNPAINTED finishes! Whoee! I am itchin’ to refinish all the doors.




  1. Bethany on March 19, 2016 at 8:11 pm

    You are needing some cortizone cream for all that itchin’!

    • Carla Windsor Brown on March 19, 2016 at 8:14 pm

      I was thinking you need to scratch some of those itches!

      • Ross on March 19, 2016 at 10:03 pm

        Carla! You are a temptress!

        And Bethany, I am going to need a gallon!

  2. Ken on March 19, 2016 at 9:22 pm

    So cool Ross. I would use the cabinet doors in the pantry as a model for kitchen cabinets latter down the road.

    • Ross on March 19, 2016 at 10:11 pm

      What is really fascinating about period kitchens is how unglamorous they were.

      The Cross House has a butler’s pantry, kitchen, and main pantry. This was common to large-ish houses of the era.

      The butler’s panty was visible to the dining room, so was finished/detailed at a high level.

      The kitchen would not have been visible, and thus would have, likely, been finished in the same very plain way as the main pantry. The main pantry had (and still has) VERY simple cabinets and VERY simple hardware and all was painted (not varnished).

      I will be doing a later post on the main pantry.

      • Sherrie Kenney on July 15, 2017 at 1:19 am

        I disagree (unglamorous). If they were, fix it- think Downton Abbey or Gosford Park. I’m looking at an old gas stove and when I die, I want to be buried in it. 🙂

        • Ross on July 15, 2017 at 9:49 am

          The original kitchen of the Cross House would not, by any measure, have been described as glamorous!

          Also, a Downton Abbey-type kitchen is rather a different thing!

          • Sherrie Kenney on July 15, 2017 at 10:13 pm

            Glamorous may be the wrong word. I have the original stove from my grandmother’s house (1897) – unfortunately, in the garage. But, I had her second stove (1940+/-) installed in a house I “backdated,” and for all the utilitarian aspects, the lack of modern (or, well hidden, e.g., microwaves hidden behind Seller doors) made it charming – and something to see. Maybe this is where you could take some artistic license(?). 🙂

  3. Ken on March 19, 2016 at 9:29 pm

    Wonder why the base board stops at a funny spot by the cabinet? I wonder if it was once a rectangle like in the drawing then curved later on?

    • Ross on March 19, 2016 at 10:02 pm

      What you are looking at is the base block under the door trim. The pantry has no base board. Just a 1/4-round.

      I appreciate that this is not obvious in the images!

  4. kerri on March 19, 2016 at 9:49 pm

    Oh please, polish up that sink and let us see it in all it’s glory! What a unique countertop with those grooves cut in, so practical. It will look great when redone. After you get all your lincrusta stripped of course, lol. Is that the original flooring?

    • Ross on March 19, 2016 at 10:17 pm

      The oak flooring is circa-1950. The original flooring is likely under, and is likely pine, matching the original pine flooring I unearthed in the kitchen.

  5. Bo on March 20, 2016 at 11:22 am

    I would be interested to know whether there are clues that the sink was originally nickel plated, and the years of scouring have worn it down to the copper, or if it was always copper.

    Supposedly these sinks in soft metals like copper and nickel silver (not cast iron) were used in kitchens because they were more forgiving when servants dropped plates and glasses in them, denting rather than breaking the item. The story is that dishwashers were invented not as labor-saving devises, but because servants broke so many things washing them by hand.

    As I’m sure you know, those faucets would have been the cool kind with the tall thin spout that came up in a 180 degree gooseneck. The Fuller-type valves were especially common for this kind of faucet. Have you looked in Tut’s treasure room – I mean, the basement – for old plumbing parts?

    You can find some excellent plumbing references on the Internet Archive site, including:

    J. L Mott 1888 Catalog G: https://archive.org/details/CatalogueG00JLMo
    Meyer-Sniffen 1884, 1891, 1895: https://archive.org/search.php?query=meyer%20sniffen
    See page 153 in the 1891 Catalog C for a nice pantry faucet

  6. Sharon on March 23, 2016 at 4:20 pm

    I always wonder what people are thinking when they start putting paint on glorious stained woodwork. I totally don’t understand it. And the trend for painting all the woodwork that has been invading Pinterest makes me crazy.

  7. Miss-Apple37 on May 13, 2016 at 6:08 am

    Aren’t the 1894 pipes containing lead?

    • David Wallis on November 28, 2016 at 5:08 pm

      If it’s a drain pipe it’s not a health hazard.

  8. djd_fr on January 15, 2017 at 11:06 am

    I do not understand painting a wood surface brown.

  9. Sandra Diane Lee on March 22, 2017 at 5:36 am

    Yipes! That sink is so fun!! Please please please polish and show us!


  10. Pam L on June 21, 2017 at 1:02 pm

    Several years ago I went to visit my Aunt in Muncie, IN she took me to Minnetrista Cultural Center there at Ball State University. They have the original 5 Ball Brothers homes. Yes intact and gorgeous. We took a tour of one of the homes. I fell head over heals in love with the butler’s pantry is was a pass thru from the kitchen into the pantry then into the dining room, It was a girl’s dream if you love dishes and I do I do. I Collect dishes, glass, tea cups and saucers everything I can get my hands on or (I know I’ve got off point just a sec) But to me a Butler’s pantry is elegance at its finest, the rich wood, the wave glass, the displaying of such beauty and art all in one room. I cannot wait to see yours restored to the glory and splendor it deserves.

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