Thursday, August 1

Pinterest as a Learning Tool!

I've mentioned before how much I love Pinterest.  If I'm not careful, I can easily spend hours browsing.  I think one reason is because there is just so much on there.  My attention span is very easily distracted, and Pinterest has led me on many a rabbit trail to things that I didn't know even existed.  I've found that it is a useful tool for expanding my study of interests in ways which I would not normally be able to access otherwise.  One topic of interest for me is historic architecture.  I have a great fascination with historic floor plans.  These plans reveal how different life used to be!  Note that you can still find examples of the homes below in most every older neighborhood in America.  Click on the pictures below and look at the room sizes.  Some are bigger and more comfortable, but the average American family squeezed into a home that was much smaller than what we're used to today, and most likely only had one bathroom to be shared, and probably only a one-car garage (if there's a garage at all) because most families could only afford one car.  Somehow, they survived.

I grew up in a house that was probably built in the 1930s or 1940s.  It was a small house, not terribly dissimilar from the one pictured to the left.  It had a living room, dining room, kitchen, one bathroom, and one bedroom downstairs, and three very small bedrooms upstairs (my parents remodeled the first floor in the late 1980s, reducing the permanent number of bedrooms to three).  It did have a concrete block basement--unfinished, but we used it all of the time.  There were four of us: my mom, my sister, me, and my dad.  Yep, my dad had to share a bathroom with three girls.  However, my father never even had a bedroom when he was growing up.  He was the only boy in his household, and all six of his sisters shared two bedrooms.  He slept on the couch.  How things changed from his childhood to ours--my sister and I did have our own rooms when we were young, at least.  My mother didn't have a room of her own until she was a teenager, when her parents added on to their house.  Go back three, four, or five generations, and everyone shared bedrooms--boys and girls, parents and children together!  How many others out there have similar family stories?

I've been surprised to see floorplans from the 1870s that included an indoor bathroom.  The plans shown below are for a "Residence of a Country Physician" from 1878.  Although I have never been able to actually pinpoint a date that indoor plumbing began to commonly be used, there might be evidence that suggests that homes and buildings were beginning to be plumbed during the Reconstruction era (~1865-1877).  Wealthy families could probably afford such luxury, but the majority of the population still used outhouses for decades after indoor plumbing was introduced.  It was just an added cost for building a house.  My mom can still remember using an outhouse as a child whenever her family went up to the cabin that her father built, and that was in the 1950s!  There are still remote places in America that don't have indoor plumbing, but obviously they are not the norm.


In this plan, there is a lavatory off of the consultation office on the first floor, and a full bathroom on the second floor in the same position.  The description of the plumbing in the house is taken from the webpage:  

"The matter of drainage to be properly arranged, and there being a running stream in the rear of lot, the Doctor congratulated himself that he would not live on sewer gas. Yet the drains must be well ventilated and a trap placed in main pipe just clear of the house. This, the Doctor said, if good for nothing else would keep the rats from entering the house by the drains."

This is just one way that Pinterest has been a learning tool.  I'll share more in upcoming posts about what I've learned on other topics, but until then, feel free to browse my Pinterest boards!

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