Deep concrete box under shower

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fireghost
Posts: 1
Joined: Fri Feb 08, 2013 11:51 am

Deep concrete box under shower

Post by fireghost »

We just bought a 1900 house that was in foreclosure. We're doing a lot of work fixing the neglect that was never done before as you would expect. Of course, we've been running in to the typical "Oh, that's cool", "That's weird", and "what were they thinking?" type situations. We either just shrug them off or figure out what their train of thought was. We've run in to one that we are really curious about and nobody around can tell us what it is.

As we were working on the main floor bathroom, that looks like it may have been a porch at one time. We've removed it now, but the bathroom used to contain the basement door.There was a TINY shower stall with a tiled concrete floor. We are in the middle of expanding this bathroom and the shower stall just needed to go. It was basically 2' square and only 6' tall. Needless to say, it wasn't good for much. As we began tearing out the rotted floor of the bathroom, and moved on to removing the shower, we started tearing out the concrete floor of it. There was wood under the concrete that was supposed to be supporting it and, of course, completely rotted through.

After we got the floor taken out, we were amazed to find a deep concrete box underneath. It is 24 inches wide, 30 inches long and 11 feet deep. There are two pieces of angle iron bolted to the "sides" and there were two 2x4s bolted to the "back". I obviously don't know what the front, sides or are. The 2x4s, all rotted, went from the bottom all the way up. They don't seem that they were attached to anything, but they could have rotted loose. The two pieces of angle iron run down to just a few inches off the bottom.

By the time I took this picture, we'd already started putting the floor back in so we can work on the wall studs and have a solid floor to stand on since all of the joists were rotted out. The pipe coming across and up the picture at the moment is an old vent pipe that we are getting ready to take out of the roof. I'm just waiting for some help with it so I don't break something doing it by myself. it does not actually go in to the box at all. The debris in the bottom is just form us tearing everything out. There was nothing in this box before we started and it looks like it is either somewhat new, which is hard to believe with the age of the shower, or just in excellent condition. There is brick stacked on top of the walls of it, but the box itself seems to be what looks like poured concrete.

It doesn't look like there are any water stains, like from water standing in it. The pieces of angle iron and the 2x4s were bolted to it, with the bolts embedded in the concrete. The basement door was next to it with the stairs running along it. There is a small basement, but the area where this concrete box is at, is crawlspace. The box goes about 6" below the level of the basement floor. There are no pipes in the walls, nor was there a drain at the bottom that we could tell. The shower did not drain in to it...there was a drain coming off of the shower, connecting to the main sewer lines.

After all of this rambling, I am actually asking a question...What the heck is this thing? The picture doesn't really do it justice, but I figured it would help determine what it is.

I appreciate any feedback or answers and I am happy to provide more pictures or information that I can if it will help out. Thanks in advance!
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Concrete box in floor under shower
Concrete box in floor under shower
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triguy128
Posts: 708
Joined: Mon Sep 12, 2011 9:41 pm
Location: Keokuk, Iowa

Re: Deep concrete box under shower

Post by triguy128 »

SO the box extends into the basement, or into the ground? Is it concrete on the floor 11' below?

If i have 1 guess, I'd say it used to be part of a dumb waiter that could lift clothes or trays of food form the 1st to 2nd floor.

2nd guess is that it was part of a chimney for a boiler (there is't a chimney above this room?)

3rd guess, it once connected to a Cistern the collected rain water.

Final guess, it once conncted ot a bomb shelter that was in the basement or under the house.


IF you have a fall protection harness... (for emergency extraction sicne it's a confined space), get a small box fan and ventilate the space first just in case, then lower a ladder down it and go take a look to see whats at the bottom.

Concrete wasn't a common building material in 1900. It did exist, but I'd guess this was added after the 50's given the type of brick I see and the angle iron.
1925 Neo-Classical

Previous home - 1968 single story Ranch/Colonial, 1200sqft - 11 windows
Current home - 1925 2 story Beaux Arts Neo-classical overlooking the Mississippi River, 3200sqft - 48 Windows

GothicHome
Posts: 170
Joined: Wed Apr 18, 2012 9:08 pm
Location: Chatham Kent On / Calgary Ab

Re: Deep concrete box under shower

Post by GothicHome »

How about cold storage! There may have been a pulley system mounted above the hole. A cage for storing perishables would be lowers into the cold space. The other side had the counter weights to make lifting easier. Being that deep it would remain cold all year long. Just load up your ham and cheese and drop it down. Sort of a fancy root cellar.

pqtex
Posts: 1319
Joined: Wed Feb 18, 2009 9:03 pm
Location: Beaumont, Texas

Re: Deep concrete box under shower

Post by pqtex »

escape hatch? Or a place to hide the bodies?
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My great-grandparents' 1913 farmhouse

Too bad the spam got so bad. Some of us have been spending time at the new community for folks with a love of old houses at wavyglass.org

triguy128
Posts: 708
Joined: Mon Sep 12, 2011 9:41 pm
Location: Keokuk, Iowa

Re: Deep concrete box under shower

Post by triguy128 »

GothicHome wrote:How about cold storage! There may have been a pulley system mounted above the hole. A cage for storing perishables would be lowers into the cold space. The other side had the counter weights to make lifting easier. Being that deep it would remain cold all year long. Just load up your ham and cheese and drop it down. Sort of a fancy root cellar.
I like this one. Although 1900... concrete construction seems a little unlikely. But only major cities has electricity, and even then just for light bulbs. Not until after WWI did most homes have enough power and refrigerators became available. Even then they were very expensive until after WWII. A deep storage space like this would definitely save on ice.
1925 Neo-Classical

Previous home - 1968 single story Ranch/Colonial, 1200sqft - 11 windows
Current home - 1925 2 story Beaux Arts Neo-classical overlooking the Mississippi River, 3200sqft - 48 Windows

Don M
Posts: 6965
Joined: Mon Dec 08, 2003 11:35 am
Location: Boiling Springs, PA

Re: Deep concrete box under shower

Post by Don M »

I would guess it was a cistern to catch rain water. We had a functioning one in our 1800s farmhouse in upstate NY. My sisters & I thought it was an in-door pool! Mom could use the soft water in our washer. I think it was poured concrete; it didn't leak at all.
1840 Limestone Farmhouse
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martinclukey
Posts: 1
Joined: Thu Dec 26, 2013 3:22 am
Location: usa
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Re: Deep concrete box under shower

Post by martinclukey »

My shower or shower filters and toilet are roughed in through the concrete, with the bath away a to deep area around the pipe for the drain fixture to sit in?

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