January 21, 2008

Worcester Losing a Quirky Institution: The Toilets Are Leaving Town

Worcester has a few real oddities that make it, well, a little bit odd. One of them is packing up and moving to a new location at the end of next month. The only toilet museum in the country is heading for Watertown:

‘Toilet museum’ closing doors

This spring the city will lose a one-of-a-kind cultural treasure and a truly rare commode-ity.

It will lose a collection of historical artifacts dating back to the early 19th century that has drawn visitors from as far away as France and China. It’s an exhibit, thought to be the only one of its kind in the country, tracing the early origins and development of an indispensable convenience of modern life.

We speak, of course, of the American Sanitary Plumbing Museum — better known to most city residents as “the toilet museum..."

In March, crews will crate up the historic commodes, urinals, claw-foot bathtubs, cast iron water heaters, plumbers’ tools and everything else for shipment to Watertown. The largest plumbing contractor in New England, J.C. Cannistraro LLC, is footing the bill to renovate a 150-year-old former ice house on the banks of the Charles River to house the museum...

John C. Cannistraro Jr., president of J.C. Cannistraro LLC, said the museum will be expanded in the new location to exhibit cutting-edge plumbing technology. The goal is to show the arc of sanitary plumbing through history from the first bulky, water-hogging flush toilets to today’s sleek models that conserve water...

Plans call for the exhibit tours long led by the Manoogs to be taken over by retired plumbers from the Boston area, he said.

The association’s ambitious plans for his father’s collection are bittersweet for Mr. Manoog. He hates to see it go, but he’s happy it’ll be preserved and expanded in a new home near Boston.

“It’s been a lot of fun,” he said, “but it’s time to let it go.”
And so the lid closes on the toilet museum in Worcester, but fear not! Bowl-boosters can simply float to Watertown (how appropriate!) when their nature calls them to be wowed by their favorite water closets.

Thanks to Wormtown Taxi for flushing out this story.

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