old bathrooms

A Look at Some Old House Bathrooms ~ Which do You Prefer?

In sourcing homes for Old Houses Under $50K and my daughter’s site, Old House Calling, we come across a wide range of bathrooms that I thought you may be interested in viewing.

Bathroom installed in an 1810 farmhouse in Hudson, New York.


Without going into a long discourse on the history of bathrooms, suffice it to say that bathing for cleanliness was not always a priority. Queen Elizabeth I is famously quoted as saying she bathed once a month “whether I needed it or not.” By the time the pilgrims began to settle the New World, they had become so grossly malodorous that the Native Americans often remarked on their foul smell.


bathroom 2
The bathroom in an 1878 Victorian in Palestine, Texas. It looks more like a torture chamber.


Then there was the problem of treating waste products. Bushes, rivers, chamber pots, and outhouses came before the flush toilet. Thomas Jefferson installed three cistern-powered toilets at the White House as early as 1801, but such toilets had a habit of “backfiring.” America was ahead of the curve, however, when it came to providing private bathrooms. I am proud to say that in 1853 the Mount Vernon Hotel in my hometown of Cape May, New Jersey, was the first hotel in the world to offer a bath for every bedroom. (Sadly, the hotel burned to the ground in 1856, a victim of suspected arson.)


Screen Shot 2019-11-21 at 7.23.29 PM
1880 Villanova, Pennsylvania, Victorian Manor restored bathroom with fireplace.


As bathrooms were expensive to install, easily costing $200 in 1910 for the tub alone (about $5,500 in today’s dollars), bathrooms in private homes took a while longer to catch on in the US. By 1940, though, the price of a three-piece suite fell to $70, a price almost everyone could afford.




Actually, this Art Deco bathroom was built in 1929. It is protected from evil spirits by gargoyles at the Villas Riviera’s condominiums penthouse apartment in downtown Long Beach, California. Formerly a hotel visited by the likes of Charlie Chaplin, in 1937, film magnate Joseph M. Schneck purchased the building for his movie-star wife Norma Talmadge to lift her spirits in her sunsetting career. The building was foreclosed on a year later.

Bathroom in a 1929 Long Beach, California, high rise. Gargoyles included.


1969 Massachusetts bathroom. The owners never changed the decor in the almost 50 years they lived there.


1980s redo in a 1900 Brooklyn Queen Anne.


bathroommushroom house
Mushroom House bathroom in Pittsford, New York.

So which of the below do you prefer? 1, 2, 3 or 4?

Screen Shot 2019-11-22 at 4.25.34 PM





  • Rebecca

    Concerning the bathroom in the 1878 Victorian in Palestine, Texas. Even though it ‘does’ look more like a torture chamber for the shower feature, that was actually considered state -of -the-art back then at that time. They have the same thing in the Pittock Mansion in Portland, Oregon and only the rich could afford it back then 🙂

  • Nancy Isom

    The first one looks cozy. The white gives the assurance that the bathroom is clean. Having the fireplace would encourage me stay in the tub with a goid book and a glass of wine.

  • Anna

    I wish the owners of farmhouse had used a different tub. The tub they used with the partial wall doesn’t make the room feel cohesive. If it were changed, it would be this one hands down, but the Manor is perfect as is.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

error: Content is protected !!