Neighbors: Old, rundown or decorated for Harry Potter, outhouses continue to stand out in ND

Nona Erickson of Portland, N.D., sent this photo of her outhouse, which she turned into a "Harry Potter" house several years ago. Special to The Forum

A popular topic for this column over the past couple of years has been, of all things, outhouses .

Neighbors has printed several stories about them . And here are more.

The picture you see here was sent in by Nona Erickson, Portland, N.D.

“We turned our outhouse into a ‘Harry Potter’ house several years ago,” Nona writes. “Now it is is one of the attractions in my flower garden. I use it for garden storage in the winter.

“The outhouse is about 113 years old; the gold gate (in the picture), too.


“Antiques are fun!” Nona accurately notes.

Special paper

Now, here’s a man who writes, “I enjoyed your outhouse stories ; however, I have one that probably tops them all.”

This comes from Arnold Jordheim, Walcott, N.D.

“I was born in 1936,” Arnold writes, “and the entire time I was growing up on a farm, we only had an outhouse.

“When I left home in 1955 to serve three years in the Army in Germany, we still had the outhouse.

“In 1958, I returned and brought with me my new bride, Gerda, from Germany.

“Until we found a house in Walcott, we stayed for about six weeks with my parents, Ole and Olga, on their farm, and they still had only the old outhouse.

“My wife, who was used to a flush toilet in Germany, found this to be quite an experience!


“One day, she had just sat down in our ‘two-holer’ when she felt a couple of pinches on her bottom. She quickly pulled up her pants part way and ran up the path to the house calling ‘Olga, Olga,’ her mother-in-law.

“What happened,” Arnold says, “is this: Our farm was located on very sandy soil, and sometimes the pit we had dug for the outhouse would cave in at the back. That is how a chicken got in, searching for anything to eat. Then it pecked at the ‘bun’ draping down through the hole.

“From then on, Olga would accompany Gerda to the outhouse to chase away chickens.

“Also, when Gerda first came there to live, Olga had bought some toilet paper which was only for Gerda to use. Gerda would take the roll along from the house, and when done, she would have to return it. The rest of us had to make do with a Sears catalog, except during canning season, when we would get to use peach wrappers.

“In about 1960,” Arnold says, “an indoor bathroom finally was installed.

“Also, Gerda and I had only an outhouse the first year we lived in our house in Walcott. A few people in Walcott didn’t have indoor plumbing until 1972, when the first water/sewer system was installed. However, quite a few had dug their own well and septic system by then.

“Uff da, those were the good old days!” Arnold says.

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A stucco wonder

Last year Neighbors wrote of Fargo’s Conrad Rose, who has a hobby of shooting pictures of outhouses .

That led Lisa Cook to ask if Conrad has a picture of a stucco outhouse in his collection.

“We own 4e Winery, just southeast of the Casselton (N.D.) exit,” Lisa writes, “and we actually have a stucco-covered outhouse that is still (barely) standing.

“We purchased the farmstead in 2012 with plans to open our winery,” she says. “The farmstead was owned until 1992 by former North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple and had been in his family since statehood, so the outhouse was likely well-made when it was built in 1901.

“The house has been sided over the years, but it was originally stucco as well — something I don’t believe was so common on the prairie.”

Anyhow, Lisa invites Conrad to visit the winery, sample the wines and photograph their stucco outhouse.

Go get ‘em, Conrad.

If you have an item of interest for this column, mail it to Neighbors, The Forum, Box 2020, Fargo, ND 58107, fax it to 701-241-5487 or email


Bob Lind
Bob Lind, Neighbors columnist. The Forum

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