Friday, March 14, 2014

Across the Inlet

I love going to Portsmouth village. On Monday I went with Donald & Merle and our off-island friends, Dick & Cheri. We could not have chosen a more perfect day.

Donald Austin carried us across. The water was "slick ca'm" as islanders say. Out in the Sound we passed several pods of dolphins. Dick took a few photos that I will share in another blog.

Although it was a little chilly out on the water, we warmed up as soon as we disembarked and started walking into the village. We spent more than four hours strolling along wooded paths and visiting the post office, the schoolhouse, the life saving station, and several homes. We lounged on the edge of the Salter house porch and enjoyed a picnic lunch before heading back down the dock to board our boat.

Here are a few photos:

Walking toward the Schoolhouse

An old Water Cistern

Where are the Students?

View of the Methodist Church from a Footpath

Henry Pigott's Tiny Cottage

Henry's Screenhouse


















































































Mark April 26 on your calendar. That's the date of the 2014 Portsmouth Island Homecoming. On Monday we had the island completely to ourselves. For Homecoming there will be hundreds of folks on Portsmouth.

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.   

16 comments:

  1. Anonymous6:46 AM

    A bit eerie, but fascinating to have an island all to yourself. Do people still rent houses there there?

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    1. The NPS has suspended house leases on Portsmouth. I heard there is just one unexpired lease remaining.

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  2. Anonymous7:39 AM

    What is a screenhouse used for?

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    1. Those little houses were primitive "refrigerators." People stored milk, meat, pies, and other food there. With screens on all four sides, and a roof they provided shade and a breeze. The screens kept the flies away.

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    2. Anonymous1:55 AM

      PH Have you read the 1978 nomination form to designate PI a historic landmark?. It mentions the Pigott house (painted pink) and complex. Describing several structures a kitchen and an elevated chicken or rabbit house about 12 feet by 12 feet. That screen house picture looks like a rabbit house to me. I would think ,if one put milk in that "screen house" you might wind up with cheese. Also, was pink a popular house color on OI?

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    3. That elevated little house is not a chicken or rabbit house. Ir was designed to keep food "cool." I did not measure it, but it is about 2' square. If the Historic Structures report describes it as a chicken or rabbit house, they are incorrect. I will dedicate a future blog post to these structures. Henry's house is the only island house I've ever known of to be painted pink..

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    4. Anonymous10:28 AM

      PH My apologies. I reread the information on the downloaded historic application form (the internet is a wonderful thing ,so much information at one's fingertips) and the elevated rabbit / chicken house was a total of 12 feet square. not 12 by 12. As I wrote that, I remember thinking , that's a lot of space for rabbits. Anyway, If that was the screen room ---did you See the elevated chicken/rabbit structure described in the application back in 1978? As the document described other island buildings as very deteriorated and the like, I suppose the PI of 1978 is far removed from the PI of today. Due to the dedication and efforts of many concerned residents of your state a treasured bit of history exists. Furthermore, the pink house was pink! Now was it a dark pink or a light pink-- Charleston South Carolina has a fascination with pink houses I recall!

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    5. When I wrote in the above comment that the screen house was about 2' square I meant 2' X 2' (about 4 square feet). I don't remember if a larger rabbit house is still extant in Henry's yard. I just got back from visiting cousin Blanche. I carried a photo of the screen house and showed it to her with just a simple inquiry: "Tell me what this is, and what it would be used for." I will publish her comment, and more about the screen house in several days (I want to get a photo of the descriptive sign beside one of the screen houses on Portsmouth). Stay tuned, as they say.

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  3. Anonymous9:33 AM

    Any skeeters at all this time of year, Philip?

    And what of your boat captain? Does he hightail it back to Ocracoke until it's time for your return trip? Can't imagine he'd hang out on the island or on his boat tied up to a dock that long. Or does he take the opportunity to fish for four hours?

    I guess the entire prospect of that particular ferry service is intriguing. Is there ready backup if your main provider fails to show up for the return leg of the voyage, if he or his boat conks out? Is that passage, from Ocracoke to Portsmouth, particularly tricky, or might anyone make the run easily enough if you needed a ride back in a pinch?

    Apologies for any "stream of consciousness" vibe, but, as I said, everything about Portsmouth has this..."frozen in time" quality about it that just sort of begs such questions, I guess.

    In any case, your patient indulgence--whether keeping us posted on your latest adventures, or fielding flights of fancy like this--is greatly appreciated. As always.

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    1. Donald (or his brother Rudy) usually goes back to Ocracoke, but Donald said he didn't have anything better to do that day, so he stayed. If your boat would fail to show up, you would simply have to wait, call someone on Ocracoke (cell phones work over there, I think), or flag down a passing boat. I don't know of that ever happening. The trickiest thing about going over is avoiding shoals. Donald and Rudy have marked most of the channels. There were absolutely NO mosquitoes...no annoying bugs of any kind. It was wonderful!

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  4. Anonymous10:14 AM

    Philip - Thank you for this interesting story about your visit to Portsmouth. You show a photo of Henry Pigott's screen house. Do I remember correctly that you have written about screen houses before? What did people keep in their screen houses and during what seasons of the year?

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    1. Please see my comment at 7:44 am, above. They were used whenever folks needed to keep food cool.

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  5. Anonymous12:15 PM

    According to the nomination form for Historic status, PI was inhabited in the 1820s by a documented 92 slaves. To your knowledge, were many of the existing structures constructed by enslaved labor? I would find the background to the construction techniques used by these builders rather interesting, as the structures have stood such harsh conditions.

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    1. When I was on Portmouth the other day I also wondered who built all those structures. I assume it was just local carpenters...but some of the earliest buildings may have been built by slaves. However, I don't think there are more than one or two remaining houses that pre-date the Civil War.

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  6. Philip-I noticed an "Ocracoke Manor" in the phone book- Berkley Manor was listed, as well, so I'm wondering if you might know what Ocracoke Manor was? Thanks, Brant Godfrey

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    1. Brant, I think "Ocracoke Manor" might have been the building that Sam Jones later called "Berkley Castle." I don't remember hearing of any building referred to as the Manor except "Berkley Manor."

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