Originally created 05/01/06

Out & about

They were once a staple of rural America and a necessity of a bygone age.

Today, outhouses have largely vanished - unless you wander into Janie Peel's backyard.

"This is my newest one," the Appling woman said, gesturing toward a vintage double-seater moved in its entirety to her farm.

"It took three men to lift it," she said. "But if we hadn't, it would have been torn down."

Outhouses have always fascinated Ms. Peel, a commercial real estate broker who now collects them.

"I can't stand to see old buildings torn down," she said. "But the one thing I can usually rescue without losing friends is the outhouses."

Before plumbing was standard in country homes, outhouses were a simple alternative.

"Some of them might be 100 years old," she said. "But there's no way to know for sure."

Her favorite is an ancient two-holer with a tin roof and crude cedar posts for corners.

The rusted metal on one side is peppered with shotgun pellets - right where the occupants would have been sitting.

Ms. Peel isn't sure whether the circular pattern of tiny holes is the result of vandalism or assault - or perhaps someone's innovative idea to improve ventilation.

"It has a lot of character," she said. "You have to wonder about the conversations that might have taken place in there."

Other examples are fashioned from crude, hand-hewn pine planks.

"Notice how the holes are different? Some of them have square holes; this one has hexagonal ones."

From a design standpoint, outhouses are as unique as snowflakes, but all reflect the simplicity of yesteryear.

During their active life, they sat atop deep holes that served as makeshift septic tanks. Ms. Peel's examples are just for display.

"I saw them a lot when I was growing up in Texas," she said. "As a Campfire Girl, I can even remember using them a few times."

Today, she has three behind her home - with room for a dozen more.

"I've identified two others, but I'm still trying to get permission to get them," she said.

"I've even got one in Texas promised to me, but I'm not sure how I'll get it here."

Reach Rob Pavey at 868-1222, ext. 119, or rob.pavey@augustachronicle.com.


HOMETOWN: Originally from Texas. She now resides in Appling.

JOB: Real estate broker; owner of Prime Commercial Properties Inc.

HOBBIES: Gardening, miniature horses, collecting antique outhouses.

QUOTE: "It's hard to have a favorite outhouse. I love them all."


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