15 April 2013

Special outhouses

The Posthorn, a publication of the Scandinavian [stamp] Collector's Club, reports in the most recent (February) issue that Finland is releasing a booklet of four stamps whose designs were chosen from 500 entries in a photo contest for "the prettiest outhouses" in Finland.  More details (and purchase information for the booklets) at Posti - the website for the Finnish postal administration.

The contest was conducted to promote ingenuity and innovation in outhouse design; the 10,000 Euro prize was awarded to an entry that adapted the many knotholes in spruce as light sources and ventilation sources while preserving necessary privacy.

While briefly researching this topic last night, I discovered that the historic Hopper-Bowler-Hillstrom house in Belle Plaine, Minnesota which features a five-hole, two-story outhouse connected to the main house via a skyway; the outhouse was added in 1886 as an upgrade to the original 1871 home.  The house is now open to the public; visitors may see the outhouse (but may not use it).  The image embedded at right is cropped from the original.

I was going to end with that - until I found the photo of the twelve-family, three-story outhouse (the Missouri History Museum does not allow the image to be embedded.)


  1. Very nice to see you writing about Finnish culture:) The outhouse is called here in Finland "(ulko)huussi" or "puucee". The former word comes from Swedish word "(utom)hus" and the latter is formed from WC - water has beeb changed to "puu"; "wooden".

    The outhouses are typical at the sommer cottages, and they are defined today by the waste act.

  2. Yes, an interesting post and indeed nice to read about Finland (I admire Finland for, among other things, its education system).
    Back to toilets though. Bill Bryson, in his book "At Home" devotes a large part of a chapter to the evolution of the toilet. He notes that privys were, in the past, anything but private: "The Romans were particularly attached to the combining of evacuation and conversation. Their public latrines generally had twenty seats or more in intimate proximity, and people used them as unselfconsciously as modern people ride a bus." (p. 379).
    Lots of interesting facts and insights in Bryson's book - I very much enjoyed it.


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