What is an Annunciator?

Have you ever watched an episode of Downton Abbey on PBS and wondered what the system was to communicate in the massive estate? An annunciator is a communication device needed to inform servants of the occupants’ needs.

Mounted call bell systems became popular in the early 1700’s and were symbols of wealth and genteel society. An annunciator, like the one in the Orchard House, allows employers to summon servants from anywhere in the house. The annunciator in the Orchard House works using an electromagnetic system rather than an actual bell wired to each room.

In 1907, when General Palmer was envisioning Colorado Springs as a “Little London” occupying vast incorporated areas filled with educational facilities with enhanced cultural family values he also envisioned building an estate that would house the family of “Queen” Palmer’s half sister, Charlotte, and her husband William Sclater, which is now called the Orchard House.

When the Orchard House was complete in 1907 it consisted of eleven “Master Rooms” with a kitchen, pantry, basement, domestic servant rooms, and living areas. The annunciator in the kitchen helped connect all these bustling spaces with a bell for each!

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