When the Civil War, World War I, and the Great Depression destroyed a great industrial civilization, many people and companies found it advantageous to get together. A social occasion, it was called, because you and your friends sat around talking to your neighbors, then went home to have a drink, and then had dinner with your friends. It was also called a “fishing expedition,” and, perhaps surprisingly, most of the social activities were done in the bath houses.
Many people liked to have a good time at the party, and at the same time, they did not want to be left behind. Consequently the term “petting club” probably first appeared with the popularity of the bath house. When people started to enjoy having fun in the bath house, people started to call it a “petting club,” but later “petting parties,” until today it is still more commonly used, and still referred to as a “petting party” but it has morphed.
Why did the bath houses become so successful? The answer lies in the fact that some of the biggest companies of the 19th century, including General Electric, United States Steel, and J.P. Morgan, created bath houses out of their own offices or home. As a result, bath houses became a great business. Companies could get their employees to spend the night because they could provide rooms that are just large enough for the employees to spend a lot of time inside.
But as the number of employees and the size of the company increased from small places to large companies in the 1920s, the quality of the bathrooms became inferior. Many people were not as comfortable and they had to have the same level of amenities in the bathrooms as in other rooms of the building. So the bath houses began to focus on bathrooms that were the least luxurious on the entire building.
A very popular bathing facility in most cities and communities was in fact one room, or a single bath house. In most cities, a bathhouse is a long block with the bath house on one side of the block. This block would consist of a couple of large rooms. The second floor of the building is where the customers were sitting. The bathhouses would be in these two rooms, which are usually close together. Once the bathhouse closed down, they would move the customers to the next block.
Some other examples of “bath houses” in the 20th century include:
The Kemptville Bathhouse
The Kemptville Bathhouse was the first bath
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