“What do you want to do with this?” the contractor asked me on Friday, as he pointed to a cavity in the exterior, north-facing, kitchen wall underneath the window.  It was about 12″ x 12″x 4″ deep, although I was reluctant to stick my hand in to get a precise depth measurement and risk having it shredded by the somewhat menacing-looking crumpled tin.

Ice Box in the Wall

“What is it?” I asked. “Probably a place where they stored ice.  We can reline it,  and put a small cabinet door on it, if you want to keep it.”  I most certainly did!  I have renamed it the wine cellar.  I immediately saw it as a nice place to keep a bottle or two of wine, flanked by 10″ thick masonry walls and benefiting from the blasts of cold wind that would certainly blow in from the north on cold days.

There are a few other treasures from the past here.  Each of the bathrooms has a small button (the one in the Master bath is located to the left of the door and looks to be made of mother of pearl; the one in the second bathroom has been painted over), which presumably summoned the maid.  Everyone who walks into the Master bath always presses it, but its ring has been long silenced.

There is also an outlet of some sort in the middle of the dining room floor (and under any dining room table, past or future) which we assumed connected to some device you stepped on to also request the maid to come.  Perhaps if I ever succumb and set up a Fresh Direct account, I can wire the bells and buzzer to them.