Eustis Estate

The Kitchen


Black cast iron stove inset in brick wall with copper cylindrical hot water heater attached. Gray soapstone sink with copper pots hanging on hooks above it next to stove.

The service wing of the house was designed for practicality and to be carefully hidden from public view. Workflow was a priority in the service spaces, and the design reflects that. Many modern conveniences were installed that allowed the domestic staff to complete their daily tasks efficiently.

“The kitchen by first right is the cook’s domain. The butler’s pantry–so called–and the dining-room are the field of the waitress’s operations.”

From The Up-to-Date Waitress, 1908

Domestic Staff

During the early years of the Eustis Estate, the domestic staff was entirely made up of people from outside the United States. In 1880 a woman from England worked and lived in the house, likely as the nurse who looked after the young twin boys. A young woman of Irish descent and three people from Canada, including a mother and son, comprised the house staff that year. In subsequent years the census shows more Americans in these positions, as well as domestic staff from Ireland, Switzerland, Germany, and Sweden.

The census data only represents those living inside the mansion house. (See the next section for the layout of their living quarters.) The family employed a butler who is not listed on the census, so he likely lived in another building on the property. There were at least a dozen other staff members (and their families) living and working on the estate, housed in the nine houses on the property maintained for employees. All staff were supplied with dairy products and produce from the gardens and orchards.

1880 Domestic Servants

The 1880 national census listed the following people as domestic servants who also lived in the mansion house. As the eldest person on staff it is likely that Sarah Law was the cook or head housekeeper.

Hannah Keefe, 22, Servant

Eliza Walsh, 28, Servant

Annie Stayes, 28, Servant

Sarah Law, 38, Servant

Charles Law, 15, Servant

Close up of census page with handwritten names, races, genders, ages, and occupations.

1900 Domestic Servants

The 1900 U.S. Census recorded more details about a person’s occupation. As a result, we know specifically that Emeline Hildebrand was the housekeeper and that Alice S. was Mary Eustis’s music teacher.

Emeline Hildebrand, 61, Housekeeper

Annie O’Connor, 37, Servant

Mary McGinness, 26, Servant

Alice Shiva/Spicer, 43, Teacher Music

Close up census page with names, family status, race, gender, age, birth place, parents' birth places and occupation.

1910 Domestic Servants

By 1910 Emeline Hildebrand was still the head housekeeper and Hilda H. was the cook.

Pauline E. Bowie, 34, Seamstress

Charles H. Bowie, 42, Steward

Hilda Hedwig, 27, Cook

Mildred Krumin, 21, Laundress

Emeline A. Hildebrand, 77, Housekeeper

Oswald S. Perry, 38, Carpenter

The Cook and Her Kitchen

From Housekeeping Made Easy, 1888

Understanding the Kitchen Workflow

Click on the image to learn about the kitchen work flow design.

Understanding the Kitchen Workflow

The service wing was designed to allow for a smooth work flow. This map outlines the design for the kitchen.

The Tasks at Hand

From Housekeeping Made Easy, 1888

Walker and Pratt Stove

This stove is dated 1879, which means that it was a brand new, top of the line item when it was installed here the same year. A large black iron hood was installed over the coal stove, the outline of which can still be seen in the bricks. Prior to the 1970s when radiators were installed this coal stove was the only source of heat in the kitchen.

Western Electric Telephone

Although we do not know when this telephone was installed we do know that an identical phone was installed in the Gatehouse so that the Eustis chauffeur could be easily called up at any time. A staff member was designated as the telephone attendant on each end of the line.


A dumbwaiter was included in the china closet so that food could easily be sent from the kitchen upstairs to the night nursery where the three Eustis children took many of their meals.


This safe is located in the China Closet and would have housed the family silver and other valuable pieces. When the outermost door is closed it appears to hide a regular closet, but when opened reveals two different doors sets that lie beneath. The first is a faux wood grained metal door that locks with a key, and the second is a set of double metal doors, also faux wood grained, that open with a knob.

Telephone Room

This telephone room was installed after the house’s initial construction when the Eustises replaced the Western Electric telephone that had been installed closer to the front door. As telephone conversations became more commonplace, the need for privacy prompted the addition of this tiny room.


The builders’ plans for the mansion indicate that was originally an elevator installed in the house, which would have been a simple cab that was used primarily for wood. An electric sawmill in the basement was used to cut wood to the proper size. The current elevator cab was upgraded in the early twentieth century.

Click on the image
to see full size
Click on the image
to see full size
Click on the image
to see full size
Click on the image
to see full size
Click on the image
to see full size
Click on the image
to see full size

On Speaking Tubes


Because this wing was tucked away far from the public spaces or family bedrooms, it was important for the family to be able to communicate with the domestic staff who lived and worked here. To accommodate this, speaking tubes were built into the walls of the house during construction, running from strategically chosen rooms down to the kitchen. There are six different speaking tubes:

1. Night Nursery

2. Second Floor Hallway

3. Third Floor Hallway

4. China Closet

5. Bed Chamber Dressing Room

6. Lab

In the rooms above, the opening of the speaking tube is a flared cone of ceramic. The other end has a whistle valve, so that if a person blows into one of the tubes in the house a whistle, like that of a tea kettle, will sound in the kitchen. This alerts the person on the other end as to which tube is in use and they can then open the valve and have a conversation.


“The habit of calling from the top to the bottom of the house is sometimes permitted when only one servant is kept. It should never be allowed…Speaking-tubes are most desirable, but when they are out of the question a bell can almost always be arranged which will notify the family of the arrival of visitors, or will serve to call the maid, if her presence is desired above stairs. American voices have sufficient reputation for loudness and shrillness already, without increasing these unpleasant tendencies by screaming orders up or down a couple of flights of stairs.”

From Housekeeping Made Easy, 1888

A Modern Call System

Decorative dark wood frame around black panel with labels of rooms with circles under each one.

The Electric Annunciator

An electric call box system facilitated communication between the Eustises and their staff. A family member would push a wall-mounted button in one of twenty spaces throughout the house, causing the bell at the top of the call box to ring and the specific room that was calling to be indicated. Depending on the room, a parlor maid, chamber maid, waitress, or other staff member would attend to the family member calling.

A flight through the Mansion