On Friday, March 14, I published some photos of my recent visit to Portsmouth Island. I have had questions about the small screen house (sometimes called a cool house or a milk house) in Henry Pigott's yard, and exactly what it was used for. Realizing that I did not provide any independent confirmation of my description of the screen house and my explanation of its use, I searched the Internet for more information. None was forthcoming.
So...several days ago I carried this photo of Henry Pigott's Portsmouth Island screen
house across the lane, and showed it to cousin Blanche (she is 94 years old).
I made just this simple request: "Blanche, tell me what
this is, and what it would be used for."
This is what she said:
"It's over at Portsmouth, but I don't know where. It's one of those little...what did they call them. I can't think right now what mama called them. It's a screened in box. If you're going to kill you a chicken on Saturday, you put them in this box to keep them cool til Sunday.
"It was to keep food cool so it couldn't spoil. Mama used to keep her salt pork in it on the bottom shelf. A lot of people had them. They made them themselves."
Of course, these screen or cool houses wouldn't keep food fresh for very long, say in July and August. But they were useful for protecting food for short periods, especially overnight.
I am wondering if screen houses like this are unique to the Outer Banks. I haven't been able to find any other references to them on the Internet.
This is a photo Dave Frum took of the Screen House/Cool House behind the Salter House on Portsmouth:
And this is a closeup of the sign:
Here is a photo of the screen house Blanche's daddy made many years ago:
You can read more here: http://villagecraftsmen.blogspot.com/2012/10/screen-house.html.
Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter documents the day telephones came to the island. The article includes
images of Ocracoke's first telephone directory which lists a total of
63 subscribers. You can read the Newsletter here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news022114.htm.