Caribbean Poetry:

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Images: Chattel House

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Chattel houses are fairly small, often brightly-colored homes that can be dismantled and moved.  Their mobility ("chattel" is a piece of moveable property) was highly valued by plantation workers who didn't own the land on which their houses sat.  Without much notice, a worker could be fired and ordered off the land where his or her house sat.  It was more economical to dismantle the house and take it to a new location rather than to build another.  To this day, chattel houses have loose stone foundations instead of poured concrete blocks as a way of maintaining their mobile character.

Each house has a steep roof with short eaves to lessen the impact of hurricanes.  For windows, old chattel houses have shutter-like jalousies that can be opened for circulation or closed against hurricanes.  Modern houses, however, tend to have glass windows instead.

Another feature common to chattel houses is corrugated metal siding.   Bajans use it for roofing, to add on a single room, or as fencing around their plot of land.  On the island, it's common to find entire neighborhoods full of corrugated metal siding, chattel houses, and chickens.

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