Two Story Outhouse

>> Friday, December 5, 2008

I mentioned in my profile that I was born and grew up in Illinois. Following is a bit of trivia that you might find interesting.

I was born and grew up in Moultrie County, Illinois. Our shopping and association was with the town of Sullivan, for the most part, but we received our mail through the post office at Gays, Illinois. We visited some friends there from time to time but we had little association with the small community. Reading a bit of the early history I found that the small community was established in 1855 and was originally known as Summit. It was apparently named Summit by railroad officials because it was the highest point on the rail line between Terre Haute, Indiana and St. Louis, Missouri. In 1861 the name was changed due to confusion in mail delivery since there was another town in Illinois named Summit. The name of Gays was selected. I could find no information as to where that name came from.

In 2005 the Illinois General Assembly passed HR0543, a House Resolution, in recognition of the 150th anniversary of Gays. Quoting from this document, "WHEREAS, Since its beginning, the Village of Gays has had restaurants, grocery stores, shoe repair shops, tile and brick yards, meat markets, blacksmithing and wagon making, hardware stores, feed mills, a cream station, garages, a filling station, beauty shops, radio repair shops, a bulk plant, and bottle gas retail; in its early days, there was a succession of several doctors; the Village also has a two-story outhouse, and visitors from all over come just for the novelty; and..."

Yes, Gays is known for its two-story outhouse. Several web sites on the internet give a bit of information on it and show pictures. It was built in 1869 for two second-story apartments above the S. F. Gammill general store. The top floor was used by the apartment dwellers while the bottom floor was used by patrons of the store. The store sat vacant for a number of years and was finally torn down in the 1980's. The citizens of Gays decided to retain the outhouse as a historic landmark and it is now an official state tourist stop and even has a road sign and a historic marker. In the early 1950's an uncle and his family lived in a building just across the street from this "skycrapper," as some have called it. The Gammill store was still in business then and the outhouse was still in use. I don’t know that I ever used it but I did visit it and "checked it out." As many web sites point out, the "materials" released from the second floor would fall behind the wall of the first floor


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