A houseboat in the early 19th century was a combination of boat and house, used largely as a pleasure craft on rivers, canals, and lakes in Great Britain, the United States, and other parts of the world. Palatial houseboats were built by Roman emperors and have been used in China since early times. The modern-day houseboat first appeared in England in about 1860. It was transplanted to this country late in the 19th century and found favor with only a select few. However, as soon as its advantages became apparent, it developed rapidly and advanced to perfection.
A “houseboat” is not a boat with two, three, or four decks and several staterooms, but a commodious, comfortable craft arranged for the accommodation of a family party, a company of bachelors, or any suggestible combination of people. Similar to a suite of apartments at sea, it might be thought of as a floating condominium. The houseboat in England has been one of the most popular attractions on the Thames and is seen to its full advantage at Henley. There are several hundred of these floating houses on the Thames.
The price of a houseboat differs according to the luxury included. However, you can buy a comfortable boat that includes a saloon, kitchen, and four bedrooms for a reasonable price. The Thames season lasts from June to September and is at its height in July and August. A paper published once a week chronicles each boat’s daily movements. A large houseboat may be hired for the season. In the United States, the houseboat is seen to its full advantage in the waters of Florida. During the summer months on the Hudson River, the Saint Lawrence River, and Long Island Sound American vessels are larger than English boats and more expensive.
They are constructed on approved plans and contain every possible comfort and convenience in the best-equipped dwelling or suite of apartments ashore. There are spacious sleeping rooms, larger than ocean steamers’ staterooms, a cozy sitting room, a parlor, a library, a reception room, all the necessary storerooms, a lavatory, a cook’s galley, and, in fact, everything that a well-ordered household might need.
Moreover, the properly constructed houseboat has a promenade deck and a high rail enclosing it. This is so that children may play on the deck with the utmost freedom and safety. Gas-powered machines are used for lighting more prestige buildings, or storage batteries are used for lighting electric lights. The most striking charm of a houseboat is the power its occupants possess to move it from one place to another.
An individual or family leaves a house behind when they do not like a place. On a houseboat, they take their house along with them, and they can travel wherever navigable water exists. The boat can be anchored midstream or moored on a pier. No person can interfere with privacy. It is their own floating castle. When they are tired of one place, they can go to another. They have the advantage over their land-living friends that they take their house along, but all their belongings, and without the baggage master.
There’s a typical American houseboat on the Saint Lawrence River called the Idler, owned and used by a New York gentleman. The cabin has a dozen or more good-sized windows; there is a saloon, and opening from it is a dining room. The kitchen, storerooms, and quarters for a servant or two are “aft.” The promenade deck has hammocks, steamer chairs, camp stools, rugs, tables, books, work baskets, and flowers; here the family lives, and three-quarters of the time is spent on the boat. Among other well-known houseboats on the Saint Lawrence are the Nydia, Mavis, River God, Bohemia, Amaryllis, Merrivale, and Summerholme.
On the Mississippi River, Ohio River, and other large streams in the Western States, the houseboat is utilized for business and pleasure. Floating grocery stores, photograph galleries, dry goods, and notion shops are not uncommon. There is one floating theater built on the houseboat plan. Hundreds of small families have adopted this rudely constructed and inexpensive type of boat for permanent residence.
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A houseboat in the early 19th century was a combination of boat and house, used largely as a pleasure craft on rivers, canals, and lakes in Great Britain, the United States, and other parts of the world.
A houseboat in the early 19th century was a combination of boat and house, used largely as a pleasure craft on rivers, canals, and lakes in Great Britain, the United States, and other parts of the world.
Reference: Consult Hunt, A. B., ‘House Boats and House Boating’ (New York, 1905).

Originally posted 2023-11-07 10:06:12.