Nell Riccatone of Villard and her special friend Gary Hoover of Glenwood were driving to Clara City one day last summer when they spotted an outhouse.  “We saw the little building dilapidated and falling down. It was so sad looking,” said Nell. “That is when we first thought about restoring and reusing old outhouses.” Nell’s initial idea was to convert an old outhouse into a cute little potting shed. But it wasn’t long before that idea went right down the toilet. How about more than one outhouse, they thought. How about getting a handful of outhouses and giving them each a different theme? Nell and Gary tracked down their first outhouse a few miles down the road at Ring Recycling. Finding more just by driving around turned out to be harder than they thought.
“We couldn’t see very many out there because they are usually pretty well hidden in the countryside,” she said. So we placed a want ad in the Senior Perspective. We had a great response and accumulated a number of outhouses. All were unique, all in different stages of disrepair and all were purchased at different prices.” The outhouses were brought back to Gary’s farm near Glenwood where the renovation process would begin. “Gary did all the repairs, always striving to reuse the wood that could be saved and rebuilding the structures to look original,” said Nell. “Usually the bottom boards were either missing or had rotted off over the years.” “The bottoms were in rough shape on almost all of them,” said Gary.    “So he gave them what each one needed to survive — a strong foundation.” The houses were then brought over to Nell’s house, located on the west side of Lake Amelia near Villard. “That is when we started the painting and the decorating,” said Nell. “The fun part!” Before moving forward with this project, Nell talked with each of her neighbors. She wanted to see if anyone had objections to her idea bringing these “large lawn ornaments” to the neighborhood. Not only were her neighbors OK with the plan, many of them became a part of the project in different ways — ideas, constructing, donating items or just offering support. “My neighbor, Annie, suggested we call them our ‘potty-ing sheds,’” said Nell. “and my neighbor, Shirley, named our growing project Pottyville.” The name stuck, and soon ideas on how to build Pottyville began to flow. Another neighbor, Jim, was named (under protest)  Mayor of Pottyville. Neighbor, Albie, took on the role as “Official Outhouse Inspector.” Another neighbor, Marcella, provided lots of encouragement and inspiration. Marcella’s husband, Ron, was named “Official Tour Guide.” Then there is neighbor, Brad, who was assigned the job of keeping an eye on everything year round. “More ideas emerged from this wonderful group of neighbors plus other friends and relatives,” said Nell. “It was wonderful.” The first potty-ing shed was given a summer theme. Naturally, they added spring, winter and fall shortly after. Then more sheds popped up. “We have a Trading Post where people can bring in something to trade,” said Nell. “You can drop something off and pick up something else. Kids love it.” On the back end of the Trading Post is the Road Kill Grill, which serves up such delacacies as Chuck of Skunk, Smidgen of Pigeon, Rack of Raccoon and more. There is also a Wild Wild West shed, a Huntin’ Fishin’ Shack and “The Throne Room.” “Many people have helped by sharing ideas, moving the structures, decorating and giving their valuable time and energy. They have made impressive contributions. This ongoing support and enthusiasm for our project is very much appreciated,” said Nell. “This whole thing has been a lot of fun,” said Gary. “It really has.” Nell is a former school teacher from Colorado and children have always played an important part in her life. “Part of this project is to include children — to give them an opportunity to learn about simpler times. Kids are great, they are willing and eager to do their part to save the earth. They need encouragement — and the sense that they have the power to make a difference.” But Pottyville is not just enjoyed by children. “One thing I have noticed — no matter who has stopped by, each person; young, old, big, small — each one smiles and most of the time laughs! That makes me so happy. And we all need laughter and a sense of humor in our lives.” If anyone would like to take a field trip to “Pottyville,” Nell said they are welcome to drop by and see them. “Pottyville USA, population 8, welcomes you!” said Nell. “If we are not home, visitors should feel free to check out the outhouses on their own.” Pottyville is located just a few miles west of Villard. From County Road 28, go north on County Road 25 and then go west on 165. When the road comes to a T, take a left. Pottyville is about 10 houses down on the left hand side. It is all visible from the road. “Many visitors have stopped by to see the progress and we are always happy to share. Hopefully it will inspire someone else to save an outhouse or think of other unique ways to recycle,” said Nell. The community of Pottyville may be expanding in the next year. If you have an outhouse that you are willing to part with, contact Nell at 320-554-3100 or 719-248-1739.