In determining Bermuda’s vernacular architecture, the first settlers initially took inspiration from the natural resources around them – palmetto leaves and native cedar. The first abodes constructed in Bermuda were thus, thatched roof dwellings. Here are five historical facts about Bermuda’s original thatched-roof that you might not already know.

  1. In 1687 there were 579 homes in Bermuda of which 487 were thatched-roof dwellings and about twenty were limestone buildings. The rest were wooden roofed with cedar tiles.
  2. The hurricanes in the 17th century wreaked havoc with palm-thatched dwellings and most, if not all, were so damaged in storms, many people were left homeless.
  3. In the aftermath of a hurricane, the thatched roofs took months to repair and many thousands of palmetto leaves, taking men away from their jobs and occupations for some time. Consequently, maritime trade, boat and ship building, and agriculture industries often suffered.
  4. By 1687 it was clear that limestone homes tended to survive hurricanes and so the Governor provided the incentive of two acres of free land to persons to build limestone houses within two years.
  5. Carter House was possibly one of these as well as many of the surviving early limestone buildings and homes in St. George’s.
Today you can visit the unique replica of a thatched roof dwelling at Carter House, Settlers’ Cabben c1612 built using materials found on island in 1612 including: Cedar, lime and clay, (turtle) oil and Palmetto thatch.

To learn more about the first 100 years of life in Bermuda and the diverse St David’s Islanders, visit historic Carter House and Museum and experience the unique replica Settler’s Dwelling circa 1612. Open on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday (summer) and Wednesday and Saturday (winter) from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm. Visit or call 293-5960 or email