Was There A Tiny House On Plymouth Rock?

I submit this to the annuals of tiny house history.

On December 21, 1620, the first landing party arrived at the site of what would later become the settlement of Plymouth, Mass and thus began the North American tiny house movement.


Plymouth Rock 1B

Due to weather conditions on ‘the Rock’ plans to begin house construction was delayed until December 23. In the interim the majority of what we now know as Pilgrims returned each night to the Mayflower to eat, sleep, and otherwise live. As building progressed some twenty men remained ashore at all times though for security purposes. Women and children were not permitted to go ashore at first making their time aboard the vessel upwards of six consecutive months! It was a tense situation for all involved.

The first known structure was that of a ‘common house’ which was little more than an open space used to store tools and provide immediate shelter for those without any. History has it that it took between fourteen and twenty-six days to complete the first common house even though it was more than likely significantly less than 800 square feet. Built of wattle and daub – a composite building material used for making walls, in which a woven lattice of wooden strips called wattle is daubed with a sticky material usually made of some combination of wet soil, clay, sand, animal dung and straw – the common houses remained even after families began building private residences.

Wattle and Daub

All said and done seven residences (of a proposed nineteen) and four common houses were constructed during the first winter. The structures were built on top of Cole’s Hill (directly across from Plymouth Rock) because of its flatness and compacted soil. Why such slow construction though? Were these not the same Separatists who, with great skill, had built entire kingdoms and homesteads back in England?

Like all tiny house builds weather was the primary factor in delay. For anyone who has lived in Massachusetts during winter it is easy to see how days can slip away in the snow and ice of New England. Beyond even that though the occasional fire slowed construction. Because of the dried thatch on the roof and the open fires used by workers to stay warm it only took a spark or ember to start a blaze. Progress was made though and in the fashion of today’s tiny house community conversation, community was formed as on December 28, 1620, the Pilgrims assigned out lots to the nineteen family groups on board the Mayflower. Each family was responsible for building their own house as well as supplying labor support for common houses, storehouses, a small military outpost, fences, sheds, and even barns! It was community by mandate.

Pilgrim HouseEach family was also assigned a land plot that was 50 feet deep by a width determined mathematically. Each member of the family received 8 feet. So if a family had 9 members their lot would be 50 feet by 72 feet.  In theory this was an excellent proposition and one that would get families established quickly on the new land. However winter bore down in 1620 and a large percentage of Pilgrims continued to live aboard the Mayflower the entire first year. Those who did manage to complete their homes were treated to solid footing in a home that included a main room for living, eating, and sleeping. There was also a fireplace for temperature control. It is also important to note that as time progressed and homes continued to be constructed with an emphasis on permanency they began to resemble traditional English cottages more and more. They were timber framed with a steep pitch roof to allow for storage or even extra sleeping room above the main room.

We see this idea continued even now as a number of tiny house trailer designs as well as small homes, cabins, condos, and the like are steeply pitched for storage lofts and even sleeping lofts. So while early settlers were not huddling on ‘the Rock’ and discussing building codes and sustainable flooring options there is room to contend that yes, there was a tiny house on Plymouth Rock!

By Andrew M. Odom for the [Tiny House Blog]

AUTHOR’S NOTE: Research for this article gained from Richmond Ancestry, Conservapedia, and Scholastic


Big Holiday, Tiny Houses: A Gift Guide for Those That Love Living Small

by MJ Boyle

Dear Santa,

I am writing you on behalf of all tiny house enthusiasts. (If you look on your Nice List, you’ll see them all listed there.) Since we are working very hard to reduce our footprint on the earth, as well as to simplify and downsize, the gifts you have given us in years past just won’t do. Now, that’s not to say we certainly do not appreciate your gestures. We do! And, in that spirit of gratitude, we are giving back to YOU! We’re also a very helpful group of people and full of great ideas!

As you have no doubt noticed, tiny house enthusiasts span the globe. But, we’re a very tech savvy bunch. So we all got together via the internet and complied (just for YOU!) this list; of all the things that tiny house enthusiasts need, and love, and that will fulfill our heart’s desires for better relationships, a closer community, and a healthier world.

Life Experiences – Instead of stuff (what “normal” people like) we crave life and embrace opportunities to experience it. We like to cook, hike, kayak, ski, eat out, garden, paint, knit, go to museums and movies, ride our bikes, write, jump out of airplanes, take road trips, read, build, attend tiny house events and classes, and spend lots time with our pets and loved ones. In our neighborhoods, and nearby cities, there are people to meet and places to go and we want to see them all! So, if you can think of a way to put all of these experiences (or even some of them) in our tiny stockings this year…that would be awesome. (I understand that gift certificates are very popular nowadays?)


One on One – As I’ve mentioned already, we love spending time with our family and friends. Finding that time, however, can be a bit tricky. So, if you could tell everyone we love that we would really appreciate nothing more than for them to carve out a day, a weekend, or just an afternoon for just us; that would be truly great. Oh….and if they can find some time to help us build our tiny house; we promise we’ll make them cookies or buy them beer.

Stuff that will fit in a TINY box – Truth be told, there are a few things we actually do need. But, the key word here is “NEED.” So if you’re thinking that we might like organic vegetable seeds, tiny multi-functional kitchen gadgets, new towels, a welcome mat, slippers, sulfate-free soaps and cleaners, sawdust (don’t ask) a little tiny hammer, or a book about tiny houses; you wouldn’t be too far off the mark.


Outside the Box – For those of us who live in tiny spaces, having a place for everything, and having everything in it’s place is a key to maintaining our sanity. We might love our tiny house, but we never said it would be EASY to get used to. So, instead of gift wrapped boxes or bags this year, would you mind sending our gifts in organizational bins or baskets? (Have you heard of IKEA or The Container Store?) We also love mason jars for kitchen storage and if you find a vintage storage tin (or five) at an antique store, that’s even better!

And Last But Not Least – Sometimes we don’t know what we need, until we need it. And for those occasions, there is simply nothing that fits the bill as well as a gift card to a local hardware store. We won’t spend it, until we need it, we promise. But if you’re going for a peace-on-earth kind of message/vibe, having one of those on hand will certainly help with the peace-of-mind part of our tiny little house dwelling lives.


I know you’re a very busy man this time of year. And I know this list may seem long. But, there are so many of us out here, I sincerely hope you will consider reading this as time well spent. I sincerely hope you have enjoyed reading this as much as I have enjoyed researching it.

Thank you for being the awesome give-back kind of guy you are. And if you ever need a hand, fixing up your toy shop or painting some lovely accent colors on that sleigh of yours, you know where to find me.

Tiny Hugs and Kisses From Your Biggest Fan,

MJ Boyle

P.S. I am also selling coffee gift bags to help fund my tiny house build. If you’d like some enthusiastic help with filling all those stockings, hit me up!

gift package

Michelle is an outgoing single mom, published author, speaker, patented inventor, blogger, craigslist stalker, enthusiastic Glamper, and Northwest native. Her interest in all-things-tiny-and-old started when she was only 12 years old. With pencil and graph paper in hand she’s more than ready for the next phase of her life. Her Tiny House, aptly named “My Empty Nest”, is the culmination of a life spent dreaming of a tiny reclaimed space, all her own.”*
Facebook Page Link:  https://www.facebook.com/pages/My-Empty-Nest/494081560700467
Blog link: <http://mytinyemptynest.com>

Tiny House in a Landscape

tiny house in a turnip field

Our Tiny House in a Landscape photo is from Hugh Wolfe. Not really a house, but it’s still a small structure which could be a house… well it would need a good bit of work… it’s in the middle of a farmers field (turnips).

Morning fog 10/19/14…

Fog lazily rolling around the neighborhood motivated a five minute drive to a favorite photo location which I’ve shot previously, *Out amongst the turnips* https://plus.google.com/116041918731282968084/posts/LQ7QYJJWshh

Literally sitting on the berm of the road listening for approaching vehicles I took several composures but preferred this one for the Queen Ann Lace in the foreground…

Post processing brought out the desire to create alternative images, one using Macphun’s Tonality Pro and another more traditional B&W with NIK’s Silver Efex Pro…


HFW_8432 (1)

HFW_8432 (2)