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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Gays in Moultrie County, Illinois — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)
 

Gene Goodwin Park

 

—Two Story Outhouse built in 1872 —

 
Gene Goodwin Park Marker image. Click for full size.
By Al Wolf, May 15, 2010
1. Gene Goodwin Park Marker
(Click on any of these photos to see the details.)
Inscription. In memory of a devoted promoter of the Historical Two Story Outhouse built in 1872.
 
Erected 2001 by Village of Gays, Illinois.
 
Location. 39° 27.523′ N, 88° 29.727′ W. Marker is in Gays, Illinois, in Moultrie County. Marker is at the intersection of Front Street and North Pine Street, on the left when traveling east on Front Street. Click for map. Marker is in this post office area: Gays IL 61928, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 12 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Cole Edward Spencer (a few steps from this marker); Abraham Lincoln - Eighth Judicial District (approx. 2.6 miles away); Site of The Village of Richmond (approx. 4.7 miles away); General U. S Grant took Command (approx. 6.6 miles away); Lincoln's Last Visit / The Debaters in Mattoon (approx. 6.6 miles away); Strasburg Veterans Memorial (approx. 9.9 miles away); Lincoln and Divorce (approx. 9.9 miles away); a different marker also named Abraham Lincoln - Eighth Judicial District (approx. 11.4 miles away).
 
Additional comments.
1. 1998 Milwaukee Journal article from the Nation & World News section (see picture 3)
Paris has the Eiffel
Obverse Side - - Gene Goodwin Park Marker image. Click for full size.
By Al Wolf, May 15, 2010
2. Obverse Side - - Gene Goodwin Park Marker
Tower, New York the Statue of Liberty, Chicago the Sears Tower. This town has a two-story outhouse.

It’s the closest thing to a claim to fame for a community that the mayor described as :250 people plus or minus six for I don’t know how long.”

Of course, the outhouse’s very existence poses a question: Who would ever use the first floor of a two-story outhouse?

“It really is the secret of the town – how you could have somebody on both top and bottom,” said Nancy Goodwin, a village trustee and unofficial overseer of the outhouse.

The outhouse’s story starts when Samuel Gamill built his general store in 1869 across from the train depot in Front St. in Gays, 45 miles south of Champaign.

Apartments were above the store.

Stairs and a short ramp connected the apartment dwellers to the outhouse’s second level. The setup prevented them from having to walk all the way down to the ground and gave them a private place away from the store customers, who used the first floor.

Each level had two holes, one designed for a man and one for a woman – a common practice when it came to privies.

“Rustic practicality,” is how Goodwin’s husband, Mayor Gene Goodwin, put it.

By 1984, the store was falling apart and the village tore it down. But the outhouse remained, with the Goodwin’s
'Nation & World News' - - Clipping. . . image. Click for full size.
Courtesy - "Milwaukee Journal", 1998
3. 'Nation & World News' - - Clipping. . .
son helping to restore it.

Since then, the outhouse, with its clean white pine boards and shiny black shingles, has stood on its own in the middle of a small park.

Bob Vail, who lives next door, has seen tourists in campers stop to take photos. Truckers hauling freight across the country have stopped to gaze n wonder. Last summer, a limousine full of actors from a nearby theater came to marvel at the privy.

“People can stop and see it and then go back to Chicago, St. Louis or New York and say, ‘You’ll never believe what I saw,’” Vail said.

Country singer Jim Connor wrote a song about the outhouse, focusing on his efforts to learn how such a contraption could safely have two levels. It includes these lyrics: “Perhaps a secret passage leads down to the drain. But some say ‘no,’ the puzzle is in just how you must aim.”

Over the years, the secret has leaked out: The holes in the top level are set back farther than the ones on the lower level. A false wall hides the difference.

No one gets to test how well the setup works. The building is padlocked to keep out vandals and the utility workers who had a habit of using it while passing through the village.

The Goodwins are working to win grant money to install a visitors log and build a stairway. The original steps and ramp were destroyed with the store,
Associated Press Newspaper Report image. Click for full size.
Courtesy: Unknown Newspaper from - Marietta, Ga., circa 1998
4. Associated Press Newspaper Report
and a ladder is required to reach the top level.

They’ve also thought about sponsoring an outhouse festival and decorating the building for Christmas.
    — Submitted May 24, 2010.

 
Categories. Notable BuildingsNotable EventsNotable PersonsNotable Places
 
News Report . . image. Click for full size.
Courtesy of "Grit", May 4, 1975
5. News Report . .
'Thank You Letter' image. Click for full size.
Courtesy of Village President, Gays, Illinois
6. 'Thank You Letter'
1872 Two-Story Outhouse image. Click for full size.
By Al Wolf, May 15, 2010
7. 1872 Two-Story Outhouse
Front View - - 1872 Two-Story Outhouse image. Click for full size.
By Al Wolf
8. Front View - - 1872 Two-Story Outhouse
Gene Goodwin Park Marker & 1872 Two-Story Outhouse image. Click for full size.
By Al Wolf, May 15, 2010
9. Gene Goodwin Park Marker & 1872 Two-Story Outhouse
Looking South - - Gene Goodwin Park Marker image. Click for full size.
By Al Wolf, May 15, 2010
10. Looking South - - Gene Goodwin Park Marker
Obverse View - - 1872 Two-Story Outhouse . . . image. Click for full size.
By Al Wolf
11. Obverse View - - 1872 Two-Story Outhouse . . .
 
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Al Wolf of Veedersburg, Indiana. This page has been viewed 895 times since then and 3 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11. submitted on , by Al Wolf of Veedersburg, Indiana. • Kevin W. was the editor who published this page. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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