TexasEscapes.com  
HOME : : NEW : : TEXAS TOWNS : : GHOST TOWNS : : TEXAS HOTELS : : FEATURES : : COLUMNS : : BUILDINGS : : IMAGES : : ARCHIVE : : SITE MAP
PEOPLE : : PLACES : : THINGS : : HOTELS : : VACATION PACKAGES
TEXAS TOWNS
Texas Escapes
Online Magazine
Texas | Columns | Bob Bowman's East Texas

OUTHOUSES

by Bob Bowman
Bob Bowman
One of East Texas' earliest architectural conveniences is making a comeback of sorts these days.

The old-fashioned 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.
Unity TX Outhouse
An outhouse in Lamar County
Photo courtesy Gerald Massey, 2010
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 and stone.

Our favorite outhouse stands on the grounds of the Rusk County Memorial Library and Museum at Henderson.
Arnold Outhouse, Henderson, Texas
Arnold Outhouse on the grounds of the Rusk County Memorial Library and Museum
Photo courtesy Sam Fenstermacher, June , 2006
Arnold Outhouse and historical marker, Henderson, Texas
Arnold Outhouse historical marker. (Click on photo for close-up of marker)
Photo courtesy Sam Fenstermacher, June , 2006
When 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.

When Arnold's 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 Commission.
Arnold Outhouse interior, Henderson, Texas
Arnold Outhouse interior

Photo courtesy Sam Fenstermacher, June , 2006
The 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.
Arnold Outhouse historical marker.

Photo courtesy Sam Fenstermacher, June , 2006
All Things Historical June 8-14, 2003 Column
This column is provided as a public service by the East Texas Historical Association.

Bob Bowman's East Texas >

Photographer's Note:
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. - Sam Fenstermacher, June 10, 2006

See Revisiting Outhouses
More Texas Architecture | Columns | Texas Towns | Texas |
Custom Search
TEXAS ESCAPES CONTENTS
HOME | TEXAS ESCAPES ONLINE MAGAZINE | HOTELS | SEARCH SITE
TEXAS TOWN LIST | TEXAS GHOST TOWNS | TEXAS COUNTIES

Texas Hill Country | East Texas | Central Texas North | Central Texas South | West Texas | Texas Panhandle | South Texas | Texas Gulf Coast
TRIPS | STATES PARKS | RIVERS | LAKES | DRIVES | FORTS | MAPS

Texas Attractions
TEXAS FEATURES
People | Ghosts | Historic Trees | Cemeteries | Small Town Sagas | WWII | History | Texas Centennial | Black History | Art | Music | Animals | Books | Food
COLUMNS : History, Humor, Topical and Opinion

TEXAS ARCHITECTURE | IMAGES
Courthouses | Jails | Churches | Gas Stations | Schoolhouses | Bridges | Theaters | Monuments/Statues | Depots | Water Towers | Post Offices | Grain Elevators | Lodges | Museums | Rooms with a Past | Gargoyles | Cornerstones | Pitted Dates | Stores | Banks | Drive-by Architecture | Signs | Ghost Signs | Old Neon | Murals | Then & Now
Vintage Photos

TRAVEL RESERVATIONS | USA | MEXICO

Privacy Statement | Disclaimer | Contributors | Staff | Contact TE
Website Content Copyright Texas Escapes. All Rights Reserved