Wednesday, August 08, 2007

An Historic Outhouse - Part 2

The first posting about this historic outhouse was made last Sunday. After that post I found out that the building was to be delivered on Monday morning. So, since it is a family heirloom, sort of, I decided to document its delivery to the Whitley County Historical Museum. I got there just before it arrived but missed it coming through downtown.

The owners, Greg and Jan Anthes, referred to it as the "Little Brick House" and contacted the Whitley County Historical Museum in early June to see if they would be interested in it. Greg and Jan offered to pay for getting the site ready and transporting the building as well as setting up an endowment fund for its maintenance. Of course, the Museum accepted. Thus, on a hot and very humid Monday morning the building arrived with Greg and Jan along to ensure that it was safely established in its new home.

Its journey actually started four years ago. According to Greg and Jan, they purchased it when they found out it was going to be torn down. Greg's grandparents had owned the little brick house when he was growing up and he had very fond memories of the times spent playing there with his grandmother. Of course, at that time, the little house was no longer used as an outhouse. The "facilities" had been removed many years before and the holes covered over.

According to Jan, the project was purely a labor of love. It couldn't have been otherwise. It turned out that moving the little house to their home in Springfield, Ohio was no easy task. The brick foundation went twenty feet into the ground. The only way it could be moved was by taking it apart. So that is what they did. They carefully removed the doors and windows and trim, marking each piece so it could be put back in its proper place. Then the bricks were removed. The walls were two-bricks thick so it was double the work. But they got it apart and safely moved.

Then they spent the next few months cleaning the brick, scraping off the mortar and dirt. By hand. One brick at a time. Greg prepared the site with a three-foot thick concrete foundation and then started putting the little house back together again. Some of the brick had been damaged. There wasn't enough of it to make the walls two-bricks thick so a wooden frame was made with a plywood facing and the outer walls of brick were laid. The windows and doors were put back on and the interior was dry walled and plastered. The outside of the trim was painted but the inside was left as it was since there was some graffiti and small drawings that they wanted to save. After nearly two years of hard work, the little house was completed. Greg and Jan used it as a garden shed and within it they also displayed some of the items that his grandmother had used.

Why were they donating it to the Whitley County Historical Museum? Well, when they bought the little house they thought they would remain in Springfield for the rest of their lives, but things change and opportunities come along that can't be passed up and a move to New Hampshire is on the horizon. They didn't want to leave the little brick house in Springfield and didn't think it had any business being in New Hampshire so they decided that it should go home again. It's not exactly in the same spot where it resided for over 130 years but it's close enough.

The journey from Springfield back to Columbia City began when the little house was literally cut from its foundation. A 12" section of the foundation was left attached to the building. It was moved from its site by a moving company in the same way that a house would be moved, very carefully, then put upon a trailer used for hauling excavation equipment. The trip was mostly uneventful, except for a flat tire on the truck near Ohio City. And a portion of the roofing material came off as it was moving along at 55 mph down the highway. Just a little worse for the wear. But it made it without any major damage.

Its final journey, off the truck and onto its new site, took about five hours. It wasn't rushed, it needed to be done slowly and carefully. It arrived a few minutes after 9 a.m. and was sitting on its new foundation by 3 p.m.

10:20 a.m. on a hot and humid Monday morning. Backing into the driveway of the Whitley County Historical Museum.
10:40 a.m. Greg Anthes, in khaki pants and owner of "The Little Brick House", talks with the movers checking out the new site.

11:20 a.m. Almost set up. The sun came out, but it's still very hot and humid.
11:30 a.m. The building has been lifted a little and the dollies are being set in place.

12:30 p.m. After a lunch break. It's moving. Slowly but surely.
12:45 p.m. About half-way there.

1:10 p.m. Getting closer. It took a while to readjust the equipment.
1:35 p.m. Preparing to lower the building.

1:45 p.m. Lowering it down gradually, like a seesaw, one end, then the other.
2:30 p.m. That's as far as it goes.

3:15 p.m. Some work will need to be done to attach the building to the footing but it isn't going anywhere anytime soon, it weighs 12,000 pounds!
3:30 p.m. Greg and Jan Anthes. The plaque reads: "The Little Brick House" / Built in 1866 / By Columbia City, Indiana banker / Franklin H. Foust / Purchased in 1915 / By John C. & Fanny Myers / Gifted in 1936 / To their daughter, / Mary B. Anthes / 2003 - 2005 / Saved from destruction, / Moved, & rebuilt / By her grandson & his wife, / Greg & Jan Anthes


Janice said...

What a great story! I've never seen such a sturdily built outhouse.


Becky said...

Thanks Janice. This was the first brick outhouse that I had ever heard of, let alone seen. Mr. Foust left his mark in the community in more ways than one. Bet he never thought he'd be known for having the best outhouse in the county, or perhaps even the state!

Anonymous said...

What a great photo but this is the privy to end all privies. Thanks for sharing