How They Did It: The Butler's Call Box

Ed Wenck
Sep 28, 2016

A home built in 1906. Beautiful woodwork. 14,000 square feet of space. The original intercom system.

The challenge: Bring the home’s intercom, climate and lighting technology into 2016 while preserving the dwelling’s 110-year-old history and aesthetic.

This specific installation — part of Admit One Inc.'s finalist entry in the CEDIA 2016 Integrated Home/ Level III category — incorporated the home’s original butler’s call box, an analog switching system with needle indicators that now show which rooms are “on.”

A reset button on the bottom of that original button has been enabled to turn the entire home “off.” (All of the old mechanical controls have been integrated into the “actual” controller, currently an iPad Mini.)

The original intercom system hardware is cleverly connected to the home’s distributed audio system. Lifting the old handset from its hook mutes a room’s sound source as it connects to another; the volume then returns to its desired setting once the handset’s hung up.

The home’s old steam thermostat covers camouflage the new temperature sensors in ten locations throughout the house. In fact, the only part of the home’s 1906 technology that couldn’t be repurposed as-is were the original pushbutton toggle light switches.

Brass keypads that camouflage modern electronics provided the solution; 54 newly manufactured pads with multiple buttons recall the mechanical pushbutton action and look of the old switches.

1 Comment

  1. 1 Ted 30 Nov
    I'm unclear on how painting white a 110 year old oak annuciator box (along with pretty much everything else), and mutilating it with electronics that will be obsolete in a decade, constitutes "preserving the dwelling’s 110-year-old history and aesthetic."  

    Pretty sure the architect is spinning in his grave about now. 



CEDIA blog posts are intended to provide general information and should not be regarded as legal opinions or advice.

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