Edit ModuleEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Your Pittsburgh Potty Could Be Featured in a New Book

Ted Zellers wants to publish a coffee-table book about these uniquely Pittsburgh basement fixtures.




photo by Chris Winters via flickr creative commons

 

Imagine a stranger appearing at your door asking to photograph your home’s Pittsburgh potty.

Ted Zellers, a Maryland native who has lived in Pittsburgh for more than 10 years, is putting together a coffee-table book about basement commodes that are common in older homes around here.

He began by asking friends to allow him to take pictures of their potties, then expanded his search to social media and is going door-to-door in older city neighborhoods such as Troy Hill, Carrick and Morningside.

"Almost everybody is nice about it," Zellers tells the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "I expected this to be kind of a weird thing, but most people I tell this project to — including the people where I knock on their doors — recognize that this is a culturally valuable thing, and it is interesting, and they wish me well."

Because of the area’s hilly topography, many homes have outside access to the basement. Rather than bring their grime into a home’s main living area, workers in the steel, mining or construction industries would change and wash up in the basement. The toilets were stand alone without walls or dedicated sinks.

“Oftentimes, there’s not even a tissue holder — just a roll of toilet paper on the tank,” John DeSantis tells the PG. As former chairman of the city’s Historic Review Commission and executive director of the Pittsburgh Home & Garden Show, DeSantis is a bit of an expert on Pittsburgh potties.

DeSantis says many suburban homes were also built with basement toilets because homebuyers here were used to them.

“Families with kids who play anything outdoors, chances are they are not exactly clean,” he says. “In a more urban sense, these Pittsburgh potties are the forerunner of the mudroom.”

In many cases,  Zellers found homes that no longer have their Pittsburgh potties — either because they’ve been remodeled as part of a traditional bathroom or they have been removed entirely. For that reason, he wants to gather as many photos as possible now.

“It’s this kooky regional thing that’s very Pittsburgh,” he told the PG, “but it’s also something that’s disappearing.”

Zellers say he's collected 100 pictures so far. No word yet on when the book might go to print.
 

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow TagsEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags

The Latest

The 400-Word Review: The Equalizer 2

An unnecessary sequel to the Denzel Washington action flick arrives for a quick beat-em-up fix.

The 400-Word Review: Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again

The sequel to the 2008 ABBA musical is far from perfect, but might have enough charm to keep you on board.

You're Going to Be Upside Down a Lot on New Kennywood Coaster

Kennywood has revealed its replacement ride for “The Log Jammer” which will be located in a new portion of the park entitled “Steelers Country.”

Restaurant Review: Poulet Bleu

Richard DeShantz steps it up with a move from Downtown to Lawrenceville and shows Pittsburgh how to make French dining fun.

Pittsburgh to Host Nation’s First Black Beer Festival

Day Bracey and Ed Bailey of Drinking Partners Podcast and Mike Potter of Black Brew Culture online magazine will bring 12 black-owned breweries to Pittsburgh in August for Fresh Fest.

Coming Clean: Why We Aren't a Green City ... Yet

Pittsburgh is no longer a smoky city, but that doesn’t mean it has cleaned up its act. Pittsburgh's air quality still ranks among the worst in the nation. What steps are being taken to reduce Pittsburgh's ongoing dependence on fossil fuels?

Ultimate Comfort Food: The Joy of Dumplings

Why our dining critic thinks dumplings might be his ultimate comfort food.

Our Seven Favorite Dumplings in Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh, of course, is best known for the pierogi. Our love of dumplings extends beyond that, however. These seven dumplings are our favorite restaurant versions of their various styles.

The Tailor's Dumpling: Kreplach

A Pittsburgh chef and his family continue to craft a family recipe with roots in Poland.

The Pittsburgh Region's Top Dentists 2018

Our annual list, which contains 376 dentists across 11 specialities, as determined by topDENTISTS.

A Weekend Mission of Mercy in Pittsburgh

More than a thousand people come to PPG paints arena once a year for free dental care, thanks to an ambitious, all-volunteer effort.

Jump Into the River: Open Waters Beckons Strong Swimmers

It takes a strong swimmer and the right timing to dive into the three rivers. for those up to it, the difference between the pool and open water is profound.

Pirates Are Still a Long Way From a Hollywood Ending

Despite an 8-1 winning streak going into the All-Star break, the Bucs are in desperate need of a sequel, not only to win back some credibility with fans, but also to convince their owner not to sell off more pieces of the team.

National Aviary's New Renovations Make it Essential Pittsburgh

It's time to add the National Aviary to the list of local favorites you visit again and again.

PM on KD: Family City Guide 2018

PM Associate Editor Sean Collier appears on KDKA's Pittsburgh Today Live to discuss our Family City Guide for 2018-2019.