of East Texas' earliest architectural
conveniences is making a comeback of sorts these days.|
outhouse, which served thousands of rural East Texans before indoor bathrooms
became affordable, has again become fashionable, but not as a working privy. It
is showing up in historical displays, as art and in advertisements.
|A photo of the outhouse
Vursey Bragg built behind her home near Hemphill
in 1952 was recently used in home improvement ads by Milwaukee¹s Equitable Bank.|
The bank paid Bragg's granddaughter, Vicki Brucia, $75 for the rights to
use a picture of the privy, which sports the traditional crescent moon cutout
on its door. Vicki rescued the old structure several years ago and restored it
with loving care. She even found a 1952 Sears and Roebuck, once a substitute for
toilet paper, and admits the outhouse is a working model. The Bragg outhouse is
one of several found on an internet web page devoted to privies throughout America,
a sure sign that the outhouse movement is growing. Vicki said the $75 she received
from the Milwaukee bank is probably a lot more than her grandmother spent to build
her privy a half-century ago.
A few months ago in Houston,
I passed through a museum exhibit on rural America and, sure enough, there was
a wonderful collection of outhouses of all kinds, including some made from brick
Our favorite outhouse stands on the grounds of the Rusk
County Memorial Library and Museum at Henderson.
Outhouse on the grounds of the Rusk County Memorial Library and Museum|
Photo courtesy Sam
Fenstermacher, June , 2006
Outhouse historical marker. (Click on photo for close-up of marker)|
Fenstermacher, June , 2006
the Rusk County Historical Commission announced plans to refurbish a local outhouse
and equip it with an official Texas Historical Marker, normally sober East Texans
were reduced to schoolyard giggles. But the Commission went ahead with its plans
and made the late Victorian, three-house outhouse, built more than 100 years ago,
a "privy to history". |
In a sense, the outhouse is right at home. The
library site was once the homeplace of John R. Arnold. It was Arnold who originally
built the outhouse behind his two-story Victorian home.
home was torn down, the old outhouse was moved to a farm on the outskirts of Henderson.
John and Peggy Pride, who owned the farm, donated the privy to the Historical
outhouse is, pardon the pun, commodious. It measures six by eight feet in floor
space. The steeply pitched tin roof is fourteen feet high at the peak and includes
an awning over the three steps leading up to the door. The business portion of
the outhouse is a simple, unadorned bench along the back wall. The three holes
are side by side, each covered with a wooden lid. Each hole is a different size
designed to fit.... well, I think you get the idea.
All Things Historical
June 8-14, 2003 Column|
This column is provided as a public service by the
East Texas Historical Association. Bob Bowman is a former president of the Association
and author of over 40 books on East Texas.
Subject: Arnold Outhouse
I've found East Texas to be a place
bountiful with upscale architectural heritage. Take the Arnold Outhouse, located
on the grounds of the Rusk County Memorial Library and Museum at Henderson,
for example. According to the Handbook of Texas, this Victorian deluxe outhouse
was awarded a Texas historical marker, giving Henderson legitimate claim to fame
as the location of the "Fanciest Little Outhouse in Texas."
I know Mr.
Bowman has written about this marvelous work of architecture, but you really
need to see it to appreciate the refined nature of this early East Texas privy.
Fenstermacher, June 10, 2006
See : Revisiting
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