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Mansion of memories: the history of Bidwell Mansion (part four)

Bidwell Mansion
Bidwell Mansion

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Bells were used as a form of communication within Bidwell Mansion.

Communication in the mansion

Brianna told the group that the mansion was equipped with a very interesting bell system: there were nine pull handles set up strategically in different rooms of the house. Each handle caused a certain bell to ring in the kitchen, where all nine bells were mounted. Each bell produced a slightly different sound, letting the maids know which room was summoning them.

The maids’ quarters are located a half-story above the kitchen. This provided them with warmth, plus they were close enough to the bell system in the kitchen to always hear it. There were usually two maids and a cook working at all times. During my tour, these rooms were under renovation.

When the mansion was converted to a women’s dormitory, the bell strings were cut because of the girls continuous ringing of them. The only way to hear the bells now is by ringing each one individually in the kitchen. While listening to the bells on my tour of the mansion, I can safely say that the bells all sound the same, making me grateful that I never had to be a servant in Bidwell Mansion!

The mansion was also equipped with a speaking tube connecting the lower floors to the third floor. In order to operate the tube, one would blow into it to create a whistling noise. This noise would alert the person whom you were trying to communicate with, and then you could have a conversation with them via the tube.

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