My turn if the century Victorian was stripped of most detail (but not the nifty acoustical ceiling tile of a 60’s remodel), but it got me thinking of fun obscure features that are no longer put in new construction, such as dumb waiters , speaking tubes, peep holes…any of you guys luck enough to have some existing in your homes?
Love turn of the century homes. The one I spent part of my childhood in had pocket doors between two rooms so the area could be opened up for balls.
Also, in one place we lived, there was a built-in folding wood ironing board behind a tall, thin door in the wall of the kitchen.
When I lived here, we kids would hang out in the old cistern under the crawlspace: an underground brick igloo.
I lived in what, in 1924, was considered a tract house. Folks purchased the lot and hired a builder of their choice to construct a home from some group of “standard” plans the builder provided.
Anyway, this home (in Southern California) had:
(1) A built-in ironing board in the kitchen.
(2) A special potato and onion storage drawer in the kitchen. It was at the floor, had a wire mesh bottom and the floor underneath had been removed to allow air circulation.
(3) A telephone nook. This is a shallow recessed area in a central location for a candlestick telephone.
(4) Electricity was not widespread so electric lighting was minimal. In this house EVERY room with an exterior wall had a window. This included closets, no matter how small. There was a 30" x 30" coat closet with a window.
(5) I’m not sure what this was originally intended for but there was an unobstructed vertical space about a foot square next to the fireplace. It went from the floor to the attic. At the bottom was a small door/hatch and at the top a weighted cover to prevent animal access. Our best guess was that this was intended for some form of early heating or cooling system. We used it as a wiring conduit.
(6) Under the house was a fireplace cleanout. After a fire a hatch in the hearth would be lifted and ashes pushed into the opening. At some point you would have to crawl under the house, open another door, and remove the accumulated ashes. I never used it but I didn’t have fires. I suspect that after crawling under the house the first time it never got used again.
(7) The first owners must have had a few bucks because in the 1930s they constructed a second telephone nook in the kitchen. And the candlestick phone was on a scissor-type extension. You could sit at the breakfast table and pull the phone out from the nook to converse. I purchased a candlestick phone replica so I could use the nook and the scissor. It was bitchen!
Our house was built in 1927, the bedrooms have transom windows and we have a telephone nook.
My Victorian cottage has:
Old cistern, still in usable condition,
Concealed door to walk in attic with two small windows,
Walk in pantry, with vegetable storage built in, also a cold room,
Large, wooden framed, double hung weighted windows,
Claw foot tub, laundry chute,
9’ ceilings, 10’ baseboards, hardwood floors,
An undersized staircase, grandfathered in, couldn’t be built today,
Transom over the front door, under the drywall, but intact,
And, when we lifted the 40 year old broadloom we found beautiful cherry inlaid floors, in the entry and living room!
Our old house (built in 1924 by one of the wealthier families in town) had:
- A laundry room with a clothesline door, so I could hang up the laundry indoors and run it outside;
- An insulated milk door, so the milk delivered wouldn’t freeze in winter or go sour in summer;
- Stained glass pocket doors between the living room and dining room;
- Full-panel stained glass front door;
- Attic with a pull-down ladder;
- A garage with chauffeur’s quarters;
- A billiards room;
- A wine cellar;
- A sun porch.
It also had the oldest, most cantankerous hot water heating system on the planet.
My house isn’t that old - 1969 - but there’s a milk box in the garage. I use it a lot to pass mail on to my old roommate. “Left it in the milkbox!”
The house I grew up in had a milk shoot (what we called it). Cooler than that was a cutting board built into the cupboards. It slid out of a slot above the stack-of drawers beside the sink. Not a real old house - built in 1955.
I forgot about the cutting board, our kitchen had one as well!
Our son lived in a rather old apartment in D.C. and when I was visiting, I was looking for a cutting board in the kitchen. I reached above the drawers, where I thought one should be, and out it slid before the very startled eyes of our son. He never knew it was there and he’d been in the place for a couple of years.
My uncle’s house in suburban Boston has two stairways. A front stairway, decorated nicely, for the residents and guests, and a back stairway, dingier, for the servants. My uncle, an MIT professor, has never had any servants.
My house was built in 1926 or so, and it seems to have been equipped with a lot more drafts and mice than modern builders use today.
not in my house
wrap around porches so that there always was a shady breezy place to be out of the summer heat.
I’ve spent a lot of time in three Victorian-era farmhouses in NYS (lived in one of 'em) that had a least a small room at the top of the stairs. In some instances as big as a bedroom. Fun as a secondary playing room.
The one I lived in also had a greenhouse in its basement, but its basement was also unconnected to the rest of the house and had a dirt floor, so that’s one “uncool” feature.
I owned a home built in the early 1850’s. It had:
- 4 fireplaces (including one in each bedroom).
- A three-hole outhouse in the barn (with wallpaper).
I lived in a house built in ~1958 that had a built-in ironing board in the garage next to the laundry area, a built-in scale in the hall bathroom, and an intercom system. State of the art in the late '50’s.
My college apartment (built mid- late 60’s) had a ‘built-in’ blender - there was a slot on the counter to put the corresponding blender jar thing into and, Margaritas!
I’ve seen old Victorians with a round turret room in the corner. I’d love to own one of those!
Still, I’ve seen enough episodes of This Old House to know that the fancy color schemes on Victorians are a major maintenance PITA. So I’d probably invest in some vinyl trim and molded trim pieces that wouldn’t require painting. The historical preservation people would no doubt burn me in effigy, but the cost savings over having to paint the house every other year would be worth it.
My friends lived in a 1960s suburban house in Georgetown. Pretty standard, but there was one feature that puzzled us: A closet on the main floor had a square hole in the floor, nicely finished and maybe 45 cm wide, that opened straight to the basement. We used it to fling laundry down to be washed, but we don’t know its original purpose. It was a little dangerous, as it could just as easily accept pets or small children, and only closing the closet door hid it away.
My paternal grandparents’ home was a farmhouse built in the late 1880s. The kitchen was huge and updated when my grandparents were married in the 1920s. It had a work sink on one end for washing up out of the field, bird baths (the shower was in the basement for years), bathing small children and overflow for canning season. It also had the under counter cutting boards, knife drawers and a huge flour bin/drawer that would hold 100+ lbs of flour.
My maternal grandparents lived in a home from roughly the same period that had laundry shutes and a coal room.
Our house was built in 1860 and had had enough remodels that it retained none of the quirks, save long windows in all of the rooms of the original section.
I’m not sure in what era laundry chutes were popular, but I would love to live in a house that has one. It makes so much sense.