Servant floor button?

A friend's house, built 1910, has this in the direct center of the dining room floor. A brief internet search indicates that it was a servant's call button. My questions are:

1) does that sound right? and

2) why was it in the center of the floor, hard to reach with a foot, and not near the head of the table? The only thing I've found is that it could have had a wire threaded through, which could then be attached to a button on the underside of the table. Thoughts?


Comments (7)

  • lazy_gardens

    Tables were usually centered, but of unpredictable size, so putting it in the middle of the floor and running a wire under the carpet to the head of the table would be more practical.

    Other floor buttons were in a spot where they could be stepped on easily. 

  • kudzu9

    It could be some type of switch controlling wiring for a receptacle somewhere, or maybe even had a wire coming out of the center that could be for a lamp on a table, etc. It's hard to tell from your photo, but the two holes on either side of the center hole could be on-off push buttons. It should be possible to better deduce the function if you took out the four screws so you could lift up the plate and look inside. Bear in mind that it could have live wires still connected, so exercise caution when poking around in there....

  • Rudebekia

    I had the exact same thing in a 1915 dining room. The very experienced hardwood refinisher who did the floor told me he'd seen many of these. They were indeed servant call buttons. Mine also was in the dead center of a long narrow dining room--if one sat on one of two long sides of the table easily reachable by foot.

  • PRO

    The actual button had an extension cord, and this was its receptacle.


  • Rudebekia

    Of course--you are right Casey! For some reason I was imagining a foot contraption, but duh!

  • schoolhouse_gw

    I never saw such a thing. How interesting. Thanks for posting this. I too thought it would be operated by a foot. lol

  • Rudebekia

    What's funny to me was that my 1915 house was only about 1100 square feet, the dining room was tiny. The usual swinging door separated the tiny kitchen from the dining room but any servant standing in the kitchen would have been about 6 ft from whomever pushed the call button. Those were the days!

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