I grew up in a part of Maine where two-story interior privies were common. My grandmother's house had one that I remember well from my frequent visits as a child. However, I think three-story privies were rare. The Masonic Lodge in Bryant's Pond, Maine, still has one.
According to the "Cabinet of Curiosities" (available via Google Books), "this skyscraper privy is a simple pine board with a hole in it. Anything dropped through falls two complete stories till it smacks the earth. Venerated by some, abhorred by others, the three-holer was finally supplemented by real indoor plumbing in the year 2000 - a flush toilet and everything. But only on the ground floor; the second and third stories remain as they were."
You can read more about this bit of Americana at http://books.google.com/books?id=X3L-D9i9BOMC&pg=PA46&lpg=PA46.
My thanks to the "All Things Maine" blog at http://allthingsmaine.blogspot.com for this information.
I may be revealing my age, but I will say that I grew up in a farmhouse in Maine with no running water and with an interior privy. Sadly, my parents' house only had an unimaginative single-story privy. We had to visit my grandmother to see a real two-story privy. I remember it well; as a small child, I was always afraid that I would fall in!
Do any other newsletter readers have similar memories?
For those of you who cannot imagine how a two-story or three-story privy is built, I'll describe it in a future newsletter. After all, this was the envy of many of our ancestors!