In the house I recently bought, built 1976 there is a 'phone' in the basement right next to the service panel. I call it a phone cause that is what it looks like, however, it doesn't have any numbers on it to dial with. When you pick it up there is no dial tone although we don't have land line service. What is really strange is when you pick it up and listen it seems as though you can hear faint echoing of what is happening upstairs. Has anyone seen one of these, or know what it might have been for ?
No dial phones gave you a way to answer the phone from that location, without allowing people to make outgoing calls. It would keep you from running upstairs from the basement when the phone rang.
Since you don't have a land line, no dial tone is expected.
Hearing faint echoing of what's happening upstairs is curious, but is it basically an amplification of sounds right around you (meaning it's just a telephone open battery loop), or can you truly hear what's going on in another room that you cannot hear from your current location?
I suspect you have a no-dial phone connected to the primary landline phone pair; it's connected to battery at the central office but no switch port. The "echo" you hear is simply amplification of the sounds around you.
Otherwise, you *might* have a strange intercom system. The other answer is more reasonable though.