THE sanitation of churches is usually neglected. Perhaps on account of the limited use to which this class of building is put it has been deemed unnecessary, up to the present time, for any special provision to be made for the comfort and convenience of the congregation. There is no reason, however, why churches should be treated any differently in this respect than any other building where a large number of people congregate for a short period of time. Where such conditions obtain there should be a retiring room for women, with toilet accommodations adjoining, and a suitable toilet room should likewise be provided for the men.
In view of the fact that church services, Sunday school, lectures and other church functions seldom last over an hour, as liberal toilet accommodations are not necessary as would be required for a school building, factory or any place where the meetings last longer. Perhaps, everything considered, an allowance of one water closet for each seventy-five women, or fraction of that number, in the congregation, and a like allowance of one urinal and one water closet for every hundred men, or fraction of that number, in the congregation, would prove sufficient. At all events, this feature of church sanitation has been too long neglected, and later designs should not be found lacking in this respect. Of course, each toilet room would be provided with a lavatory, as is customary in all toilet rooms.
In addition to the general toilet rooms there should be a private toilet room for the officiating clergyman or priest, suitably located adjoining his private room.
The foregoing requirements are common to churches of all denominations. There are other requirements, however, which are peculiar to certain churches, while still others are matters of convenience, which may be included in or omitted from churches of any denomination.
In Baptist churches, for instance, or other churches where immersion is practiced, a tank for baptizing is an important part of the plumbing installation. In such churches the tank may be built under the rostrum and slides placed in front so that they can be removed during the ritual of immersion to enable the congregation to witness the ceremony. Tanks for this purpose are usually of large dimensions, 8 to 10 feet long, 5 to 7 feet wide, with steps at one end leading down to the bottom. The tank may be made of wood lined with sheet lead, as is the more common practice, or it may be made of cement, concrete or bricks, and lined with glazed tile. In either case provision must be made for heating the water to take off the chill when in use so the people who are baptized will not suffer too severe a shock from the cold water or run the risk of becoming chilled and contracting a cold. A dressing room, fitted with a lavatary, will be found desirable, if not actually necessary, for the disrobing and robing of those who are to be immersed.
In churches of many denominations sociables and suppers given for charity are matters of such common occurrence that in designing such a building those entertainment functions should be taken into account and a suitable kitchen provided with sinks, range and hot and cold filtered water.
Drinking fountains would not be amiss in church buildings and they may be located in some sheltered nook in the outer nave, in which case one would be sufficient, or separate drinking fountains may be located in the women's and men's rooms. In either event some type of sanitary fountain would be found preferable.
A sanitary provision which should not be overlooked in churches is the installation of a vacuum cleaner to keep the church free from dust. Many of the seats in churches have upholstered cushions, while the aisles are covered with runners. These become charged with dust brought in by people and from infiltration during the week, so that when stirred up by walking, and stirring about in the seats, affects the lungs and is anything but pleasant or sanitary. A good vacuum cleaning outfit would rid the church of the dirt and dust on Saturdays, leaving it in good condition for the Sunday services. Brooms and dusters are of no use for this purpose, as they but stir up the fine and more irritating particles, which, later, settle again ready for further mischief.
A. good ventilation system is equally desirable in church buildings. Where many people congregate, as they do in church, the air becomes vitiated unless a constant supply of pure, fresh air is constantly forced in from outside. The air used for this purpose should further be passed through an air filter or an air washer to remove all particles of dirt, soot and dust.