Atlas Obscura is organizing trips! Join us on an adventure »
Today Only: 50% off Atlas Obscura books and calendars at Barnes & Noble »

Gays, Illinois

Two-Story Outhouse

This historic lavatory leftover features two levels of defecation stations completely without context. 

The bizarre historic structure in Gays, Illinois known simply as the Two-Story Outhouse is all that remains of a former general store that would have made the bi-level bathroom make a lot more sense.

Standing like a strange white monolith on a small patch of grass in Gays, the two-story outhouse has become somewhat of a local celebrity. It was built in 1869 as part of a general store that once had apartments connected to it. The upper section of the old bathroom was attached to the residences while the lower section was for general store shoppers who just had to go. In order to avoid any disastrous doodie drops, the upper and lower commodes are positioned on opposite sides of the outhouse, and the waste from the upper level actually falls to the septic pit below behind a false wall that keeps the first level away from all sorts of crap.

When the general store was torn down in 1984, the owner of the property saw the uniqueness of the bathrooms and took care to leave them standing, albeit a bit strangely as they no longer have any true reason for being. Today the stacked outhouse is no longer open to the public, and in fact there is no direct way to access the higher level but the Two-Story Outhouse, known to locals as the “skyscrapper,” is beloved nonetheless.

Illinois Week on Atlas Obscura was created in partnership with Enjoy Illinois as part of the launch of the new Illinois Obscura Society. Sign up to find out more about the back room tours, unusual adventures, and incredible parties that Atlas Obscura will be putting on in Chicago and greater Illinois.