Ice, ice baby?
February 25, 2012 8:26 AM   Subscribe

What is this odd ICE knob on the faucet?

This is an antique faucet setup in a historic hotel (The St. Anthony in San Antonio, if that help). The bathroom sink has the old-style separate knobs for hot and cold, and this faucet in the middle with the curious ICE knob (button? handle?). It doesn't seem to do anything. The little flipover handle controls the drain plug.

Any ideas what this would've done? Is the original intention even a bathroom faucet, and not perhaps a kitchen faucet?
posted by chrisfromthelc to Home & Garden (12 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Does the cold water faucet have an aerator, and the ice faucet not have an aerator?

If you're trying to make ice, an aerator will just make it cloudy.
posted by Hither at 8:41 AM on February 25, 2012

Can you examine the plumbing underneath the sink for clues?
posted by thejoshu at 8:41 AM on February 25, 2012

Response by poster: The separate (hot and cold) valves flow into one faucet. It doesn't appear to function at all when turned.
posted by chrisfromthelc at 8:48 AM on February 25, 2012

My best guess, having grown up in San Antonio, is that at one time it was connected to a really cold spring. There are tons of springs in that part of Texas. It probably meant "icy water."

Ask somebody in the lobby. The St. Anthony is a historic hotel and somebody working there will know the answer.
posted by vincele at 9:54 AM on February 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

Having read a lot of old periodicals and being a fan of vintage advertisements, I've seen several hotel ads where ice water on tap is mentioned as one of the features of the hotel. Unfortunately I can't find one at the moment.
posted by jocelmeow at 10:37 AM on February 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

Here we are.

Morrison Hotel, Chicago. "Every room with bath, running ice water and Servidor."

Hotel Victoria, New York. "Hotel Victoria 51st Street and 7th Avenue, New York. Circle 7-7800. Where Times Square Meets Radio City. 24 Floors of sunshine - courtesy - hospitality. Accommodations for 1000 guests. Radio - Television - Ice water - Servidor. In shopping and theatre district. Our Restaurants, Public Rooms and Lobby Air-conditioned."

Hotel Edison, New York. "Opened in 1931, the Edison had 1,000 rooms, three restaurants, radios, 'circulating ice water,' and air conditioning—in its 'public rooms' only."

Hotel New Yorker, New York. (My husband and I stayed here on our honeymoon!) "34th Street at 8th Avenue, New York City. Private Tunnel to Pennsylvania Station. 2500 Rooms, Each With Radio; Both Tub and Shower; Servidor and Circulating Ice Water. Four Popular Priced Restaurants. Dancing Nightly in the Terrace Restaurant. Rates: $3.00 a day and up. Ralph Hitz, President"
posted by jocelmeow at 10:46 AM on February 25, 2012 [7 favorites]

What in the world is a servidor?
posted by 6550 at 12:27 PM on February 25, 2012

A servidor is a cubbyhole in the wall with a door both on the inside and outside of the room. So, let's say, you can have room service delivered without having to open the door while wearing your nightgown. You can read a 1917 pamphlet by The Servidor Corporation titled The Servidor: The New Entrance Door for Hotel Guest-rooms at that link.
posted by jocelmeow at 12:44 PM on February 25, 2012 [3 favorites]

Ah, at the end of that pamphlet it says the servidor was a panel in the room's door rather than its wall. I was thinking of milk doors/chutes/boxes, which were delivery cubbyholes in houses with a door on either side of the wall, and assumed it was the same. Not so, apparently.
posted by jocelmeow at 1:18 PM on February 25, 2012 [2 favorites]

The Servidor brochure lists a use example of being able to deliver Ice Water without exposing the guest to the full hallway. What was with these people and their water?! (Theory, the ice water was potable, while the other tap waters might not have been?)
posted by marylynn at 6:51 PM on February 25, 2012

marylynn, we have to remember air conditioning was extremely rare when that pamphlet was issued. And as a desert resident who detests AC, I can attest to the importance of ice water in the summer when you don't have AC.
posted by buggzzee23 at 7:05 PM on February 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Seems like @jocelmeow was right.

There's a disconnected line to that pushbutton valve on the faucet. It was originally designed to deliver refrigerated water to the room.
posted by chrisfromthelc at 7:52 AM on February 26, 2012

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