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We dig into the archives to get to the bottom of basement toilets

A toilet installed in a basement sits next to a washtub and dryer.

Every week on Urban Spelunking , Radio Milwaukee’s Nate Imig and OnMilwaukee’s Bobby Tanzilo dig into the buildings and architectural features that help retain the city’s sense of history while it builds for the future.

With Bobby taking a very well-deserved break this week, we decided to unearth one of our favorite episodes involving a different kind of break: toilets.

We all have them. We all use them. But maybe you’re one of the lucky(?) few to have one randomly sitting out in the open in your basement. As it turns out, it might not be as random as it seems. Milwaukee homes built pre-WWII sometimes had this rather odd amenity — and that’s it. No doors. No walls. No sink.

Were these supposed to be “dad” toilets — vestiges of the city’s industrial past? Was it just easier to install them there? Earlier this year, Bobby decided to get to the bottom of this basement-toilet mystery and flushed out some answers.

Listen to the episode below to hear what he discovered, and make sure to like, share and subscribe to Urban Spelunking wherever you get your podcasts. Then head over to OnMilwaukee for his full article on this plumbing puzzle … this bathroom brainteaser … this crapper conundrum. OK, I’m done.


Director of Digital Content | Radio Milwaukee