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 afford them.

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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This web page was updated on 03/01/2007.