1795 Acorn Inn Bed and Breakfast (Canandaigua, New York)

Our Guest Rooms Didn’t Always Have Private Baths

April 28th, 2011 by Innkeeper


Conversations at the breakfast table were kept pretty clean, as clean as conversations can be centered around an Outhouse that is.  But after the first cup of coffee or shortly thereafter, we were all good friends and conversation was easy, even about an Outhouse.

What you are seeing here is the inside of the Outhouse, also known as the Privy, with the front part if it taken off.  I suppose on a warm, sunny Spring day like today, it might be kinda nice to take care of business outdoors.  But, mostly the Outhouse brought up thoughts of having to go out there in freezing temperatures surrounded by snow.   Imagine that.  Conversely, it may have been even worse on a hot day.  And what about having to go out there at night.  Who knew what was lurking around.  I think I would try to hold it.

I suppose it was pretty nice as far as Outhouses go.  It had an east-facing window.  It had a door.  And, it had three seats.  Though seemingly small, it was probably pretty palatial compared to single seaters.  No real toilet seats though.  Just holes.

We always tried to figure out why the Outhouse had three seats. Did people go in there together?  Did they know each other or even worse, were they strangers?  Did they perhaps bring reading material?  Was the first hole for Monday, the second for Tuesday and so on?  Despite the constant flow of new guests at the breakfast table, we usually had the same questions about Outhouse etiquette, but no answers.  It really didn’t matter though as there was always lots of laughs.

Unfortunately, it was clear time and Mother Nature had taken their toll.  The Outhouse had seen better days.  It started to lean and despite propping it up, it was calling out to be put to rest.  In so doing, we got a great vantage point into the interior and the seats.

Not only was it interesting to finally see the three seats, but they had lids and were of varying sizes.  As if for Papa, Mama and Baby Bear (Mama Bear hole above, Baby Bear hole seen here).  Maybe that was one of the answers we were searching for.  Maybe they actually had different hole sizes for varying-sized bottom.  Or, maybe it was family bonding time.

While I lived in cities most of my life, other than water rationing, I’ve always had indoor plumbing.  However, the holes in my Outhouse do remind me somewhat of the bathrooms in Hong Kong.  Although, those holes, while usually tiled, were ground level and we didn’t actually have the luxury of a seat.

I know this can be a difficult subject to read or talk about.  If it’s difficult for you or someone you know, may I suggest two wonderful books… Everybody Poops and The Gas We Pass.  This has been fun.


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