Gays in Moultrie County, Illinois — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)
Gene Goodwin Park
—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. Touch 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).
1. 1998 Milwaukee Journal article from the Nation & World News section (see picture 3)
Paris has the Eiffel
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
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,
They’ve also thought about sponsoring an outhouse festival and decorating the building for Christmas.
— Submitted May 24, 2010.
Categories. • Notable Buildings • Notable Events • Notable Persons • Notable Places •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on May 17, 2010, by Al Wolf of Veedersburg, Indiana. This page has been viewed 965 times since then and 20 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11. submitted on May 17, 2010, by Al Wolf of Veedersburg, Indiana. • Kevin W. was the editor who published this page.