What I didn't know, though, is that many of the rooms still have remnants of the bell pulls by the doors that students could use to call their maids when they were ready to get up for the day.
Yeah, Balch apparently had maids' quarters in the basement, for the students who came to campus with their domestic staff. As absurd as that sounds today, I guess it makes sense for an era when college was still largely for the upper class. Presumably some of the men had valets, too. This is the time "Downton Abbey" is set in, and while Cornell probably didn't get a lot of British aristocrats, that sort of thing certainly still existed in the U.S.
As tough as it is to imagine students coming to campus with a domestic staff today, it of course still happens. When the Princess of Thailand came to Cornell, her dad bought a house near campus and filled it with staff. Collegetown has a couple of buildings with doormen because that's what people who live in fancy big-city apartments expect and are used to, and I'm sure there are a few kids who have bodyguards living nearby.