Tip of the Month - March 2007
History of Bathrooms in America
Source: Your Home Inspection Guide
By William L. Ventolo
Cleanliness, hygiene & hot & cold running water are taken
for granted by modern Americans. But not until the 1800’s
did bathing become an accepted & common practice.
Before germs were discovered, bathing was considered hazardous to
health. Gradually, as people became aware that dirt breeds
disease, bathing became fashionable. From the mid-19th century
onward, bathrooms were status symbols for those wealthy enough to
The first bathrooms, or boudoirs, were converted bedrooms, usually
located adjacent to the chambers of the mistress of the house.
Places of luxury, they were lavishly decorated with green plants,
Oriental rugs, rich silks & velvets & soft lighting.
Technological innovations in the mid-1800’s brought the water
heater & the toilet. Although a number of inventors share
credit for developing the modern toilet, the Cretans had a version of
it some 4,000 years ago.
For most of the country, however, hot & cold running water remained
a dream. Until the first decade of the 1900’s, only about
15% of American homes had indoor plumbing. Most people bathed in
crude tubs set in the kitchen. City folks could use public baths
where 5 cents bought a hot bath complete with soap & towel.
Today, the trend is moving toward luxury bathrooms that offer quality,
comfort, convenience & elegance-particularly in the master bedroom
or master suite.
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page was updated on 03/01/2007.