Porcelain Shrine

The only museum devoted to indoor plumbing



he only museum devoted to indoor plumbing, the Plumbing Museum has antique toilet fixtures, a 19th-century wooden two-seat outhouse, sitz baths, antique toilet paper, even a urinal designed for women. (That one didn’t catch on.) You may expect to also see some bathroom shower glass around the place, and whilst the odd piece may feature here and there the exhibits are mostly focused on the other use of water in the bathroom. To this end, it also has plumbing tools, a 1920s version of a dishwasher, a prison toilet, and a piece of the wooden underground water main that supplied water from Jamaica Pond to central Boston in the 17th century, all in an historic onetime icehouse. The gift shop sells such classic books as Flushed with Pride: The Story of Thomas Crapper.


In 1829, Boston’s Tremont Hotel became the first in the country to have indoor plumbing, with eight bathrooms in the basement. The water came from a tank on the roof, which meant that the pressure was created via gravity and the push of it onto the earth. Modern systems tend to use a pressurized water system that works internally, which is why you can have different water speeds in your taps, showers, baths and toilets from house to house. Still, it is interesting to see the beginning point of indoor plumbing, and how far it has come from those humble beginnings.

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