Monday, October 15, 2012

Screen House

Nearly every house on Ocracoke had one at one time. The small screen house, normally raised up several feet on posts, served to keep meats and baked goods cool(er) and protected from flies and other bugs.

With the advent of electricity in 1938, and the rapid introduction of refrigerators, islanders abandoned their screen houses. Today, I know of only one extant screen house on the island. It sits on the ground behind Blanche's house, not used for many a year. Blanche tells me her papa built it when she was six years old.

Blanche's Screen House

There are still several original screen houses in Portsmouth village. Look for them if you are over there. I am thinking I will build one for my back yard one of these days.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is a gallery of photos of fences on Howard Street and Lawton Lane. To go directly to the this month's Newsletter click here:


  1. Anonymous8:12 AM

    Before cell phones, did residents ever at any time, employ passenger pigeons to send messages to the mainland?

  2. I've never heard of anyone on Ocracoke employing passenger pigeons. I've never even seen a pigeon on the island. If I know anything of old-time Ocracokers, they would have been more likely to eat the pigeon than to send it off with a message.

  3. All over our country we have distroyed too much of our past. It's great to see something like this still standing.

    Build it, Philip, and "they will come".

  4. Anonymous5:53 PM

    Are there Cardboard bicycle rentals on OI or has a vendor not set up shop yet? MarketDesign

  5. Anonymous6:16 PM

    Speaking of Portsmouth, do you know if anyone is around to take visitors to Portsmouth the first week of November? I now know we will miss your Ghost Tour, so we thought perhaps we could venture over there. Austins? Ferris O'Neal? Any ideas would be greatly appreciated. Love this picture and that this is still standing. Would be a great addition to the museum there.

  6. Anonymous4:46 AM

    What about a community potluck to raise funds to restore the screen house? Seems like a noble enough reason to have a party. ;-)

  7. Hello there!

    -- No cardboard bicycles on Ocracoke...YET. But who knows?? (

    -- Check with Rudy Austin about trips to Portsmouth ( We noticed at least 3 screen houses over there today (Tuesday).

    -- A potluck dinner to promote screen houses?? Why not?

  8. I think it would make a wonderful chicken coop.