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It Takes A Village To Save An Outhouse

Posted on 04 September 2012 by Editor

There was a day when indoor plumbing was a thing of the future. Refrigeration was done with ice kept in ice boxes. And people did their business in little buildings outdoors, when mail order catalogues such as the Sears Roebuck were prized possessions. These structures could vary from fancy to plain and business simple.

The Friends of Harmony Hall recently acquired a free-standing outhouse that dates to near the turn of the 19th century as a gift from a local Sloatsburg couple Mr. and Mrs. Ray Sheehan of Richard Street.

Chair of the Harmony Hall Restoration Committee Ken Lisner said the small square building dates to about 1900 and is constructed with both cedar clapboards and cedar interior tongue and groove work. The roof was replaced in the 1920′s. A standard ‘two’ holer’, the outhouse recently was moved to its new home at Harmony Hall through the “good graces of Peter Tetukevich”, said Lisner. Tetukevich is a resident Sloatsburg landscaper.

Most outhouses came with two holes, which were sized differently. Children were wary of using the larger adult hole, for obvious reasons.

The outhouse is being restored to what it may have looked like originally in a home such as the Jacob Sloat House by Ken Lordy of Suffern, with direction by Lisner. The Sloat family occupied Harmony Hall until 1908.

In 1848, fine houses such as Harmony Hall, had larger and more impressive structures such as the example found on the June property in South Salem, New York, built in 1846 (pictured above).

Friends of Harmony Hall, a non-profit organization that is active in the restoration of the Jacob Sloat House, has also recently made several other improvements to the Sloatsburg mansion. FOHH board member Joe Nappo has taken on the task of  designing a first-floor heating solution. Nappo recently supervised the delivery of c.1900 radiators to be installed in Harmony Hall’s historic interiors. FOHH President Barbara Berntsen has been working with the Town of Ramapo to begin the long-planned restoration of the mansion roof, which will finally button-up the seams and pave the way to the repair of the first-floor plaster walls. Restoration work is expected to begin in the mansion’s dining room in 2013, with the larger tasks of restoring the south salon, entry hall, grand staircase, breakfast parlor and estate office to follow, depending upon the ability of the board to raise the funds necessary to complete those projects..

Friends of Harmony Hall host the annual Bluegrass Festival Sunday, September 9, from 1 – 7 p.m. Lisner encourages people, for a small contribution, to get a picture taken in the restored outhouse.

Ken Lisner contributed to this article, including photos.


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