The benefits of residential and commercial dumbwaiters are well-known. Lifts, in general, make transportation more convenient, whether they’re transporting people or products. However, what may be lesser-known is the history of dumbwaiters and their role in making transporting products easier. In the past, we’ve taken a look at the origins of stairlifts as well as elevators. Now, it’s time to dive into a brief glimpse into the history of dumbwaiters.
The Origin of Dumbwaiters
In ancient Greece, the dumbwaiter was a simple hoist design. Strong men pulled a series of winches and pulleys with ropes to move a load. Then, Romanians enhanced this lift by transporting animals and gladiators via 24 lifts to the colosseum’s fighting arena floor. It took hundreds of men to make this happen! Over time, these hoists developed into what we know today as the elevator.
Thomas Jefferson and His Role in the Popularity of Dumbwaiters
Thomas Jefferson greatly admired French and European innovations and bringing them back to the United States. In the 18th century, during dinner parties, the French used dumbwaiters, but, of course, they looked nothing like today’s modern version. These models represented a portable serving stand. At Jefferson’s estate of Monticello, he owned five dumbwaiters, one of them being a spring-loaded turning shelf, where his assistants could discretely load food into the dumbwaiter without distracting the dinner party. Guests could then place their empty plates into the dumbwaiter and return it to Jefferson’s helpers.
The Patented Dumbwaiter
Although Jefferson saw great use of the mechanical dumbwaiter at his estate, the first patent did not happen until the 19th century. In 1887, George W. Cannon filed the first patent. Pulleys and weights operated his mechanical dumbwaiter. This device became a boon to high-rise tenants and wealthy homeowners alike. Its counterbalance weight allowed the car to move vertically. Cannon’s design was efficient And as a result, it didn’t take a person as much effort to move the dumbwaiter.
However, at restaurants, dumbwaiters got so much use that the ropes would stretch or slip off the pulleys. Therefore, a better and safer design was necessary. One dumbwaiter in Peoria, Illinois, a few years after the first patent, included safety features such as:
- A handwheel rope to prevent rope burns
- A hand brake and check rope to slow down or stop the dumbwaiter
- Wooden guide rails that keep the dumbwaiter on a vertical, straight path
The 1920s and 2020
In the 1920s the electric dumbwaiter emerged. Electric engines were more efficient, and users could easily control them. During this time, electric dumbwaiters became popular in libraries and were heavily used in restaurants more than ever before! Fast forward to 2020, residential and commercial dumbwaiters are still a high commodity but more affordable to the average homeowner. Are you interested in one? Reach out to Preferred Elevator today!
Preferred Elevator: We’re On the Up and Up!
For 14 years, Preferred Elevator has served residents in Central Maryland, Baltimore, and Washington, DC. You can rely on our experienced home installation team and quality products.
For our commercial elevator clients, we also provide annual inspections of your equipment to adhere to standards established by the state of Maryland. During these inspections, we make sure that your commercial mobility product is functioning correctly and efficiently. We’ll also go over all safety devices and customized features offered within your plan!