The House of My Dreams
November 18, 2020 | View PDF
Some of you may remember a story I wrote several years ago about outhouses. In that little tale I explained how fascinated I have always been with these outdoor potty rooms. I have outhouse paraphernalia everywhere; coin banks, tree ornaments, calendars, towels, pictures, an outhouse quilt I made years ago, a night light, knickknacks, you name it. If it is an outhouse item, I have it or want it if I don't happen to own that particular trinket. I am not sure why I have such an interest in these artifacts from the past, but I do.
When I lived in eastern Montana, I had an old outhouse that I salvaged from the research center, which I stationed beside my garden. It made a great tool shed, as well as a marvelous conversation piece, and I smiled to see it stand proudly by the garden's edge.
Moving to Virginia City placed me in outhouse heaven, so to speak. This old town has many decrepit old buildings throughout the town, many of which were former outhouse structures. Besides the normal one-hole facilities people generally see, there's an old two-seater down by the train depot, and a double-decker outhouse located in an alley behind the Fairweather Inn.
Double decker outhouses in particular have always caught my fancy. They seem special, somehow, and I love the reason for their existence. It seems that back when people routinely used their outdoor facility for lack of indoor plumbing, and when winter invariably dumped several feet of snow on the ground, the door on the lower level of the structure became impossible to open. Therefore, the second story came in handy, people could scamper through the snowdrifts, sprint up the stairs to the second floor, and answer nature's call without the necessity of trying to shovel a foot of snow from the downstairs door.
I have always wanted a two-story outhouse, not necessarily a working one, but a two-story outhouse nonetheless, just because I like these structures, and if I am going to have one, it may as well be twelve feet tall and have two levels. Why have a hovel when you can have a castle?
The opportunity finally arrived for me to realize my dream. For the past two winters, my husband worked part time at a sawmill. He brought home mismatched chunks of timber that couldn't be sold as dimensional lumber. He figured these slabs would make excellent firewood. I pointed out to him that they would make an even better two-story outhouse.
It took a little persuasion to sell him on the idea, but he decided that such a structure would be fun, and it would certainly fit into our landscape and our life style.
Our original intent was to build our little outdoor facility back in our woods, but then the neighbors got wind of our plans. He decided that our woods were far too scary and menacing, too much like a Hansel and Gretel forest, full of cackling witches and trolls just waiting to discover someone with his or her pants down, and both he and she decided the house of my dreams ought to be situated somewhere between the two residences. That way they could take advantage of the edifice if needed.
We decided on an appropriate location, we dug four holes, we set the corner posts, and the project got off to a great start. My husband worked diligently for several weeks measuring, cutting, and screwing boards into place. He found two odd shaped windows for the upper level, and the neighbors donated a window for the main level that had frosted glass which would discourage any peeping Toms (or demented witches that ventured out of our Hansel and Gretel forest) who might be lurking behind the trees to spy on the poor unfortunates sitting on the throne at ground floor.
My 5' by 5' dream house took shape and form. It looked wonderful. My husband built a wall ladder, similar to what you might find in an old barn, to climb to the second level. By then he had decided the second floor would make a great reading area for me and my neighbor, so he put down some leftover flooring, built wooden benches on two sides of the tiny room, and made the room quite comfortable and inviting. The windows allow a lot of light on the second level, and the space, although tiny, works quite well. My neighbor and I decided it would make more sense to enjoy an adult beverage along with the spectacular view when sitting up there rather than to read books, although we could always read while we waited our turn to use the first level. The view from one window looks out across the mountains and down to Virginia City, the view from the other window faces the garage and our dark fearsome forest that so frightens our neighbor.
My husband likes the upper level so well he figures he might use it for his own hideaway on occasion.
I think my dream house looks great. Of course, this structure is not heated, it is not a true two story-working outhouse, it is not air tight, but after all, it IS an outhouse, designed for fun as well as function, but it is not a living space. It is perfect, it is what I wanted, it is my dream house, and I am content. I have my cabin on the mountain, my little office, and a double decker outhouse. What more could I possibly want?