While there’s no shortage of relief options along State Highway 154 in northeast Texas, two particular loos (the British term for a bathroom) offer quite the view. Located in the tiny Texas town of Sulphur Springs (population: 16,234), the public potties are as much contemporary art installations as they are, well, commodes.
The bathrooms sit in the town’s historic square Celebration Plaza, and opposite the Hopkins County Courthouse. The elaborate outhouses were made with one-way mirrors. Those inside enjoy a full view of the square. Those outside can’t see in. Any lookie-loos trying to peep inside will merely get a glimpse of their own reflection.
“Think of these bathrooms as a flushing fish bowl,” wrote one person who shared his experience in a Google review. “You get to do your thing and check out the surroundings in the process. Catch people cheating at checkers or chess, laugh at people being sprayed by the fountain, or stick your tongue out at anyone you choose. I will admit that I feared the walls collapsing and a camera crew emerging to unveil an elaborate prank, but once you realize you’re the one with the sight advantage, it’s quite entertaining and turns a chore into a memorable event! This is the place to go when you gotta go!”
When the mirrored restrooms debuted in 2012, they were the only permanent and code-compliant glass bathrooms constructed with one-way mirrors in the nation, according to Cintas, a bathroom and service supplier. The restroom and business services company holds a contest annually to identify the country’s most luxurious lavatories. A top contender in 2013, Sulphur Springs’ artsy outhouses were ultimately ranked America’s third-best public place to relieve yourself.
Sulphur Springs’ mirrored restrooms were in part inspired by ‘Don’t Miss A Sec,’ a contemporary art piece by Italian-born artist Monica Bonvicini, according to Cintas.
Perhaps the state’s most beautiful public restrooms, the transparent toilets were, naturally, pretty pricey -- They cost the city $54,000 to build. But, the gamble appeared to pay off. The curious commodes are something of a roadside attraction, enticing tourists with an affinity for the odd.
“I’m so glad we stopped here for this strange attraction! What a wonderful idea for any town,” wrote one person in a Google review. “Bathrooms are a necessity, but aren’t always pretty. Who would have thought you could turn it into an attraction?! Great job Sulphur Springs! Wish more cities would do this!”
For some, the public bathrooms have proven prohibitively unnerving.
“Okay, so this freaked me out big time...I couldn’t use one of these if my life depended on it,” admitted one person in a Google review. “Neat looking though for sure.”
“Definitely worth a stop to check it out... And if you have a shy bladder it’s like exposure therapy,” wrote another.
City officials assure that the famed facilities are safe and well-monitored.
“If you take a look around we’ve got nine cameras here on this square watching what goes on. They’re all monitored at the police department and they’re all recording in HD color. So trust me, this is the last place a creep wants to hang out,” Sulphur Springs City manager Marc Maxwell told Tyler TV station KLTV in a 2012 interview.
Even if you don’t necessarily need to go, the bathroom’s sheer novelty factor makes the wacky, roadside attraction worth a step inside.
“Definitely worth checking out, if only because this is the only place in the country you can experience peeing while watching people around you pretend that they can see you!” one person wrote in a Google Review.
The bathrooms are open to the public every day from 8 a.m. until 10 p.m. and are located at 100 Church Street in Sulphur Springs’ Celebration Plaza. For more information, visit sulphurspringstx.org or call the Sulphur Springs Department of Tourism at (903) 885-5614.
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