basement doors?

house_hunter08February 5, 2010

Has anyone heard of an old house that has an entrance to the basement from the outside, but none from the inside? Why would anybody have designed a house this way?

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My neighbor's house is like that but it's not original. At some point, someone removed the basement stairs & built a half bath on the main floor where the back hall/stairwell had been.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2010 at 9:33AM
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I don't think mine originally had interior stairs - looks like they were put in where there used to be a closet under the stairs. Can see where floor was cut and the stairs are not old. Has also the exterior doors and stairs from outside.

Probably they didn't really consider the basement to be living space - more like storage for coal and stuff. Often had dirt floors.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2010 at 9:46AM
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hi there. Our previous old house (build 1899) had no interior stairs to the cellar. There were only exterior steps into a beautifully built circular brick wall and floor root cellar. Most of the houses in teh neighborhood were the same ... no interior cellar stairs. Remember that in alot of old houses the "water heater" was the stove in the kitchen and the "central heating" were a series of fireplaces. At least that was what our old house was. The cellar was strictly for storage - mostly food items, root vegetables, canned foods, etc. since it stayed wonderfully cold there even in the heat of the summer. Our house walls were 4 bricks thick on a stone foundation/crawl space excepting that wonderfully crafted circular cellar.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2010 at 9:46PM
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It's very typical of old rural houses. Even some old city houses. They were built before the days of breaker boxes and electrical entries. Often built before central heat. One went down to the cellar (they were often so crude, they weren't even called basements) if 1) a tornado was coming 2) you had some hooch aging in crocks 3) you had milk or butter in the trough cooling in diverted spring water or 4) to check your rain water cistern. My last house had an exterior set of double trap doors to the cellar. Someone had along the line enclosed the back porch into a kitchen, but the stairway to the cellar was simple a big rectangular hole down. It had been an exterior entrance.

The big move to interior access came when coal central heat started being popular. One had to get to the octopus easily to stoke it up in the mornings. And the coal was dumped by wagon or truck through a chute to the cellar for convenience.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2010 at 12:35PM
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