Question about funky stairs
Our (approximately) 100-year-old home is a former two-family flat that has been converted to a single-family home. Our "front" stairs are interesting, in that the bottom 7 stairs are hinged, and lift up on a counterweighted spring mechanism to allow access to the basement.
When this was a two-family home, this was the way the upstairs tenants were able to access the basement. The downstairs tenants had "regular" stairs to the basement under the "back stairs" - which were the only access to the backyard for the upstairs tenants.
Anyway - these "Addams Family Stairs" are odd to us, and apparently odd to everyone in our city. The mechanism has this wording:
Rodgers Automatic Stair Door
Patent October 12, 1915
Interestingly, this date puts our house at much later construction - if these stairs were installed originally - than previously thought, based on title searches and items found in the house.
Anybody know what I'm talking about, or have any idea how often this method of basement entry was used?