In the modern age we think of things as a given however, older homes constructed up to 1950 1950s included a variety of innovations to make living simpler. A majority of these innovations have been removed and some of these concepts could surprise you.
The following list consists of only a handful of the various features that you could see in an older home that have become outdated or were no longer in use. Certain features are getting a resurgence for homeowners, while others have fallen out of fashion in the course of time.
At one time coal was the main fuel used in home furnaces. Deliverymen would go door to door , and then dump coal down the chute. The coal would then end in the basement, where homeowners could then dump it directly into the furnace.
While these chutes have largely been sealed, you can often see the Iron chutes on old homes, where they are now used for nothing more than decorative.
The bathrooms of older homes included a built-in cabinet for medicine which was built to fit within two walls studs. Under the floor of the cabinet, behind the wall was a closed space referred to as the “blade banks”. You could dispose of your old razor blades by putting them in the slot. The remains of blades used for cutting remain in the process of being found as bathroom renovations take place in these homes that are older.
In in the Second World War, external blade banks were made available in order to guarantee that iron could be reused. The feature was removed from usage with the advent in disposable safety razors.
It’s difficult to imagine the volume of mud present on a wet afternoon in 1800s or 1800s however the absence of roads that were paved caused dirty boots. To keep your foyer tidy there was a casting iron scraper for your boot was placed on the front of the stoop. Some modern homes come with plastic or wooden versions with brushes, however in general it’s a feature that is largely forgotten.
Baking was once an everyday home. Pies, breads and other pastries were all made fresh, and visits for a local baker were not as often due to greater price. However, cooling your freshly baked apple pie on a window sill made it at risk of being eaten by wildlife and other scavengers and also to the whims of the weather.
To facilitate cooling in homes, many houses had the marble cooling shelves. Since marble countertops are commonplace and baking is not as common the need for special cooling shelves has gone away.
It is still common in commercial buildings the dumbwaiters were an original idea that had a mixed reception. They were typically boxes that were inserted into the vertical wall shaft that were lowered and raised using ropes and pulleys. Most commonly, they were used to transport food from the kitchen of the basement to the dining area or upstairs to the hallway.
Because they were usually big enough for a tiny child to squeeze in the dumbwaiters caused a lot of accident-related injuries, and sometimes even deaths. A combination of safety issues and the relocation of kitchens to the top floor eventually saw these elevators being boarded down or removed from contemporary design homes.
Fireplaces of today are usually ornamental, while traditional fireplaces were important and were often were found in every major space of the home. Of them, one of the most lavish is one called the Rumford fireplace. This model featured a high and shallow flame pit created to reflect most of the warmth into the space.
The introduction of furnaces and central heating made a lot of fireplaces inoperable and many were closed. Many homeowners today think of a fireplace as an asset, which makes it one of the most sought-after projects for restoration.
Another less-used invention was the usage to use laundry chutes. The process of transporting laundry from the house into the basement an issue and was usually the responsibility of only one person to take care of. If a home had laundry chutes it was often the responsibility of the house members to dump their dirty clothes to the garbage chute. The laundry would then fall into in the basement and a cart or basket was waiting to grab the items.
As homes grew smaller as they grew, the need for such features waned, and bigger home designs started to cut them out.
Doors and Chutes for Milk Doors and Chutes
Prior to the Great Depression, and for some time afterwards, car technology wasn’t able to support supermarkets. It was more common for local dairy stores to supply milk to homes according to a set timetable.
It is common to place empty milk bottles in your stoop or porch and the milkman would then replace these bottles by full ones. If you needed a specific need, you’d put a note in the neck of the bottle. Like most things, people were looking for ways to make the delivery of milk more practical. It was followed by the door or milk chute.
The location was either over the counter in the kitchen or near the landing for stairs to the basement The dairy chute served for much more than simply milk. It was a “chute” was just an empty wall with an exterior and interior door. The deliveryman would put things that were not edible in through the exterior door, then the entire family could get them by opening the door inside.
Because milk chutes were wide enough for children to pass through and not always constructed with insulation, they were taken out of use when it became more affordable to purchase eggs or milk at your local supermarket. Nowadays, many chutes have been bricked up and converted to mailboxes, or alternative options for use.
Phone Shelves and Nooks
Think about trying explaining your child that phones used to have to be connected to the wall, and they did not come without YouTube or even the ability for you to call your phone number. They’ll probably ask which planet you were born on. However, many years in the past, before Ma Bell split up into AT&T and Verizon phones, phones were linked with operators on switchboards. It was as simple as lifting the earpiece off its hook and inform the operator which number you’d like to connect to.
The earliest home phones were made of wood and looked like phones in terms of size. They needed the magneto generator in order to ring the bells of the answering machine. Internal batteries made the calls, though the battery technology of these phones occupied a large lot of space.
Architects started to incorporate recesses into their designs to accommodate these. Although small and less efficient phones eventually took over the wooden phone but they were still in use for a number of decades.
After it was made possible to power the phone through the external power supply, the candlestack telephone rapidly became among the loved and well-known models of phones. If you were making a call you can hold the phone with one hand, and then put the earpiece on the other.
In response to the new design, wall-mounted shelves started appearing in foyers that were specifically designed to hold phones. A lot of them had a space beneath for storing important phone messages or a book.
It is likely that you have encountered steam radiators at one time or another. In 1855, the first time they were invented, these radiators were originally made from cast or wrought iron , and are still popular, despite their inefficiency compared to modern HVAC. The distinctive ping sounds they produced were resulted from condensed water droplets being hurled through steam pressure. They were more affordable and efficient than hot water heaters that were used in early skyscrapers. They also provided the first form of central heating in homes.
What you might not be aware of is that radiators in older homes included a number of characteristics that were not present in modern designs. Here are some of the more popular things you could have seen in the past century:
- Dryers for Clothes In the event of inclement conditions, laundry required an efficient method to dry than lines that were indoor. Although it was feasible to dry clothes directly on radiators this limited the amount of items that could be dried and also could cause burns to some clothes. To counter this to this, rack attachments were designed that allowed all of your clothes could be dried at the same time. The racks could be put away when not being used. There’s a more modern version of this concept with warmer racks for towels. There are some stores that still offer radiator racks, but they’ve fallen out of fashion after the invention of dryers at home.
- Custom designs Based on the way radiators worked it was possible for the iron to be formed into any form the manufacturer thought of. Homes that were expensive often had ornate designs that were a reflection of the period that they were used in.
- Humidifiers to help to fight dry air in the winter, the early 20th century radiators included metal tanks on top that were covered with water. When the radiator warmed up the room and the tanks were filled, they would turn into functional humidifiers.
- Steam Valves Steam radiators from the past had a steam boiler that was located beneath the floor. Since there was no means to effectively regulate the temperature, each radiator had steam valves to release the pressure. The whistling might be quite loud, especially when there was a lot of pressure.
- Warming Racks Kitchens were typically situated in basements or had brick or stone walls. Therefore, it was difficult to cook large meals without food items or baked goods getting cold. To prevent this from happening the kitchen’s radiators often included metal shelves the which cooked food was placed to keep warm.
Root Cellars and Home Canneries
Photograph Credit: Thomas
The home garden was in the past a significant resource for food production in rural families. Since vegetables were only available during certain seasons so it was important to store some of them for use during winter. small rooms or parts in the basement would be designated as private canneries. Fresh fruit, jamsand preserves, and other vegetables were packed and sealed in mason jars before being stored on shelves.
In areas with less population such as those in the Midwest prairies, took further, constructing secondary basements near. The root cellars served as an ideal place to not only keep food in but also dried seeds and herbs. When storms were threatening they could also serve as shelters for emergencies.
Today, when supermarkets provide fresh food from all over the world, root cellars and home canneries are not in high demand and are usually recycled.
Photo Credit: turloughmor.
Based upon the dimensions of your home There are remnants of the servant bells. Small bell pulls were placed within each room, often in closed doors. Each rope was connected to the bell of its own in the area of the servants located in the basement. A butler or maid could examine the labeled panels and find out what room they must go to. Certain of them, particularly those in Victorian homes, included a tube for speaking.
Since the invention of electricity the majority of homes began to put a button on the floor of the dining room that created a buzzer within the basement. The owner of the home could push it with their feet to draw the attention of anyone in charge of the kitchen in the basement.
Today, with the advent of electric intercoms in most kitchens that are located have dining areas the two types of bells for servants have become obsolete and were often removed from older homes.
In the middle of the
Century, doctors began recommending
Clients create sleeping porches. It was a standard design feature in homes across the South the porch was actually an open-air bedroom. Although fresh air was the primary draw, they were soon deemed unpopular being regarded as to be a unique feature.
Tubes that speak. Tubes
Intercoms in homes are not something new, but speaking tubes were commonplace in homes well before the invention of electricity. The first intercoms were tubes that ran along the wall. At either end was an earpiece and cap typically constructed from nickel. The cover was moved using your thumb, and then blow through the tube which caused it to sound like a whistle at the other side. The mouthpiece can be used for speaking as well as listening.
Certain variations had flexible tubing that could be positioned at an upper end that was above the mailbox to permit deliverymen or visitors to make announcements. Although speaking tubes were replaced with electronic intercoms a long time ago but the new technology has led to them becoming a popular reconstruction project during recent times.
This seemingly beautiful aspect of old homes actually served a practical purpose. Transoms are the windows that is above the front door. It’s generally comprised of stained glass with two major functions. It first allowed sunlight to enter the foyer. In addition, it allowed all-year-round air circulation.
A lot of older apartments offices, schools, and other structures used plain transom windows for doors that led into main hallways, which could be opened to let air flow in and assist in temperature control. While they are not as common in the architectural world however, these windows continue to provide practical and aesthetic appeal and is definitely worth contemplating in your home renovation projects.
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