Sunday, May 24, 2015

Behind the Scenes of Beds, Baths & Beyond #3

The Outhouse

·       Outhouses, also called a privy, were located at the far end of the garden or yard.  Our replica double seat outhouse at Backus-Page House Museum is behind the house on the east side. 
Pictured is the replica outhouse at Backus-Page House Museum.  
·       Outhouses were constructed of wooden walls and a sloped roofed, usually very small in size and there was a gap in the walls at the top and bottom to allow airflow. Inside was the wooden seat which resembled a shelf.

·       Outhouses were lightweight for easy moving when the hole was full and well ventilated, usually with fragrant flowers planted around it.

·       In some areas, pig manure and soiled straw would be added to the waste piles to help break down the waste material at a quicker pace.

·       When holes filled up, the shelter would be moved to a new area on the property if the family had the space. After the new hole was dug, that soil would be used to seal and cover the old existing hole. If families did not have the luxury of moving the privy, the hole would have to be cleaned out and taken out of town and then spread over fields. This was a major problem for people living in densely populated towns, where common overflowing caused a very unpleasant odor.

·       Not until 1880’s and 1890’s did North American plumbing flourish.  Up until the 1840’s indoor plumbing could be found only in the homes of the rich and in better, upper class hotels. 

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