Tuesday, February 4, 2014


Renovation has begun again. Getting plumbing to the building became paramount. My daughters are often with me and I got tired of sending them to the bush when they needed to use the bathroom.

The bathroom was an addition to the house made in the early 1900's, I'm placing it between 1920-1930.  It appears to have been done by cutting a hole out of the side of the building and adding a concrete block structure that is supported also by concrete blocks. Unlike the elegance in proportion of the original structure, this bathroom was done in a way that left it awkward. You have to step down 3 inches when you enter it. The ceiling is very low. The toilet is a little far from the wall. There is a window above the face basin. All this to say that we gutted the bathroom and made some minor adjustments in positioning of the toilet.

My original idea was to have a white bathroom, but when it came time to buy the materials at HD nothing of what I had looked at before was there. There seems to be a serious ordering problem in that store. So I settled for travertine tiles, 18"X24". Stone is a beautiful material. I'm satisfied but not thrilled.

We installed completely new plumbing in the walls and in the ground. I don't know if I would have changed even the sewer line if I didn't have to, but since the "Copper Thieves" stole most of the cast iron pipes that were partially exposed due to erosion, we had to. It cost $1200 in labor and another $400 in materials.

I never imagined how exciting it would feel to see water flowing into a toilet. It was surreal. Water in a toilet, in this house, that was so abandoned and neglected for years. It made me think of how amazing that must have been for those who also saw indoor plumbing for the first time. The foundation for the outhouse/privy/latrine is still located to the back of the property. I'm not sure what I will do with it yet.

In the interviews I did with residents of the area, many commented that up to the 50's when most people still had outhouses, that men would come in the nights to empty them out. One of the interviewee's said the she was a girl at the time and it was a bit scary for her because they would come in a big noisy truck and be dressed in dark clothes, long boots and gloves, and masks. I think she said they were called the "Night Soil Men". I have to go back and look, but regardless, I like the name and see it fitting.

My next civilizing feat is to get electricity to the building. The process has begun, but is incomplete. More on that later. For now I'm enjoying running water.