The Origin of the Dumbwaiter

Dumbwaiters are a pretty neat invention, but they look a lot different now than they did back when they originated. The dumbwaiters of today look like small freight elevators; not so decades and centuries ago. In a nutshell, the modern dumbwaiter in a home is a small lift that works by remote-controlled electric operation, moving items from one floor to another.

Why You Need a Dumbwaiter

They’re great for transporting meals, books, groceries and even sports equipment – all at the touch of a button. There are some models that still rely on a pulley system or hand-drawn ropes, but these are more primitive in nature and are common in older homes. These manually operated lifts are usually left in place and restored to preserve the integrity of the home’s history. Today’s dumbwaiters are safer, as the dumbwaiters of old were prone to slipping and spilling the loads they were carrying.

Safety and convenience features have been placed on modern dumbwaiters to ensure these things don’t happen.

What’s in a Name?

Wondering why these lifts got such a silly name? Well, years ago, they used to be very commonplace in large houses with hired staff, who would use these lifts to transport food and beverages between the service kitchen and the dining area above. In 1957, Harold Pinter coined the phrase “dumbwaiter” in his play of the same name, which is staged in the service kitchen of a large house.

Dumbwaiters served a very useful purpose in a variety of industries throughout the 20th century, transportation in particular. Elevators used to rely on a pulley system until electric versions came around. Many homeowners have dumbwaiters in their houses, especially large houses where it would be prohibitive to walk up and down long flights of stairs with food or heavy items.

You’ll also see them a lot in commercial settings, such as in bars, restaurants, medical labs and offices. Dumbwaiters no doubt make our lives easier and are becoming a growing trend in the residential market.

While you may think of dumbwaiters included in old Victorian mansions or Colonial homes, early evidence suggests origins in ancient Rome. Way back in 200BC, a Roman architect made mention of a primitive dumbwaiter that allowed the movement of goods throughout a building.

Contact Mowrey Elevator

Interested in installing a dumbwaiter in your home or business? Get a free quote when you contact us today in Florida. Here at Mowrey Elevator, we work with the Econo-Lift® Dumbwaiter from EII — the most affordable and high-quality unit we provide. Choose from a floor- or wall-mounted system, both of which come with a convenient remote control. Our dumbwaiters are easy to install, maintain and use. They come pre-wired and include EMI interlocks.

The standard features of the EII include:

  • Finished 9-ply birch cab
  • Roll-up Silver line gate system
  • 100 lb. or 150 lb. capacity
  • Travel up to 27 ft with three stops
  • Safety devices including slack cable, trolley brake and final limits