Basket Houses

Basket Houses in use by South-Eastern Coastal Indians.
Photo: VR image by Richard Thornton, Architect

When the Spanish arrived on the coast of South Carolina, Georgia and Florida, they observed small houses near the beaches which were woven like baskets. In, what is now South Carolina and Georgia, these “basket houses” were only used in the warm months as fishing camps. However, the Tequesta People living in the coastal areas of far southeastern Florida lived in them year round.

The houses were literally woven from dry palmetto fronds like they were over-sized baskets. They functioned much like a screened porch today – air could circulate, but insects and rain drops couldn’’t penetrate the walls.

Very similar woven houses were used by the Potawatomi People in the Upper Great Lakes Region in the late summer and early autumn, when they were gathering wild rice and fishing on the lakes. It is quite possible that the “basket house” were once a tradition throughout much of North America for summer time housing. Since their construction was basically woven leaves, reinforced with saplings, nothing remains of these houses on archaeological sites.