Mt. Gilead has a unique outhouse in that there are actually two outhouses side by side! One accommodates two guests, while the other is a single-hole outhouse.
The first outhouse was thought to have been built some 500 years ago. Since latrines were highly unsanitary around the 1500s, it made sense to designate a specific spot for doing personal business. The earliest outhouses were located 50 to 100 yards away from the home and were small huts that had little more than a hole in the floor. Inside the floor was a small tin or bucket that caught the waste and it had to be emptied daily by one lucky winner. Mt. Gilead’s outhouses had a cleanout door in the back built into the stone base. Although those doors have deteriorated, we plan to rebuild the stonework bases and re-create the original structure and functionality.
And you might wonder why there isn’t a cutout in the door? While many outhouses have a moon or star/sun cut into the door, Mt. Gilead’s outhouses do not. These cutouts were common among American outhouses and had two purposes. In addition to providing light, the cutout signified whether the structure was for men or women. A moon meant that it was a female-only outhouse as the moon was a symbol of the Roman goddess Luna. The sun, which represented the Greek god Apollo, meant that it was a men’s outhouse.
Finally – why a two-seater?? Often a parent would take a child to the outhouse, creating the need for two seats. You might even notice a size difference in the opening! Feel free to have a seat! It might be the only outhouse you ever get to visit!