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Historian, on outhouse tour, has high praise for privies at Cobblestone Museum

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 21 May 2018 at 6:09 pm

5-seat outhouse called ‘a real architectural jewel’

Photos by Tom Rivers: Bill Lattin, who is retired as Orleans County historian and also is the former director of the Cobblestone Museum, led a tour of the outhouses at the museum last Friday.

He is speaking in front of an outhouse from 1830, which is the oldest building at the museum. This one was built in the Federal style of architecture and is unusual with the horizontal panels to construct the door. This outhouse was originally located at the first bank in Orleans County, which was located at the corner of routes 279 and 104.

There were about 25 people on the tour and they took many photos of the outhouses including this “five-seater” by Farmer’s Hall.

“This is one of the finest examples of Greek Revival architecture locally,” Lattin said. “It’s a real architectural jewel.”

The outhouse didn’t have five seats so a family could go to the bathroom together, Lattin said. The five seats were there to spread out the human waste.

“If it was only one hole you’d have a stalagmite,” he said.

Lattin discusses this outhouse that is placed by Proctor Brook and the Harness Shop. The tour highlighted historic outhouses, indoor commodes, and chamber pots.

Lattin said most outhouses had buckets of quick lime which were thrown in the privy holes “as a way of sweetening the smell.”

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