An armchair visit to... Stiltsville, Miami

"No one who chances upon the phenomenon of Stiltsville for the first time will ever forget the sight of homes that hover above the waters, miles from any shore, like structures from a dream." ~ Les Standiford

Jimmy Ellenburg House - Image from Wikipedia

I chanced upon the Stiltsville houses when I saw images of quirky houses, hovering high above the turquoise waters of Biscayne Bay, Miami Florida, while on the search for a houseboat stay online. I quickly forgot the search for the houseboat, and found myself captivated by these enchanting houses. Have a look at Matt Stock's stunning images of Stiltsville...

Stiltsville Illuminated documentary from matt stock on Vimeo.

Houses have always held a fascination for me, especially houses on the water (probably explains why I am a house sitter) and could you get any more on the water than the ones at Stiltsville? Looking at them I started to wonder, what sort of person would think to build houses in the middle of all that water... and 'how?'

Bay Chateau House - image courtesy of

So I did a little bit of investigation and met some lovely folks that assist in the running and care of Stiltsville, as well as the great folks from Miami Beach Real Estate, who were happy to share information and their photos. As it turns out, the houses are as colourful as their history...

Leshaw House - image courtesy of

"Crawfish" Eddie Walker built a shack on stilts above the water in 1933, toward the end of the prohibition era, allegedly to facilitate gambling, which was legal at one mile offshore.

The Shaw, Sessions, Baldwin House - Image courtesy of

Crawfish Eddie sold bait and beer from his shack and was known for a dish he called chilau, a crawfish chowder made with crawfish he caught under his shack. Thomas Grady and Leo Edward, two of Eddie's fishing buddies, built their own shack in 1937. Shipwrecking and channel dredging brought many people to the area and more shacks were constructed, some by boating and fishing clubs. Local newspapers called the area "the shacks" and "shack colony". Crawfish Eddie's original shack was destroyed by the late season Hurricane King of 1950.

The Hardin House - A frame house - Image courtesy of The Hardin House was used by Lloyd Bridges in one of his movies and is used in a lot of commercials. ~ Dr Paul George

Image courtesy of

At one time there were 27 houses in Stiltsville, but hurricanes that hit the area over some years, fires and the exposed nature of the area, over time have taken their toll. In 1992 Hurricane Andrew hit and left only seven of the houses remaining.

If the phenomenon of the Stiltsville houses have fascinated you too, come along and take an armchair cruise to see the houses and learn some more about them with Dr Paul George ...

If you happen to be in the Biscayne Bay area, you can join the cruise and
view Stilstville for yourself - visit Miami Beach Visitors Center

And in case the thought of 'Crawfish Eddy's Crawfish Chowder has got your taste buds fired up... I stumbled across the recipe... true story...

Crawfish Eddy Chilau

  • 12 crawfish cleaned
  • 1 lb. bacon, fried
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 1 tbsp. oregano
  • garlic to suit your taste
  • 2 cans tomato puree
  • 2 tbsp. ground cumin
  • Salt and pepper

    Cook it all up and serve to friends with a couple of cold ones. Cheers.

    Credits and to find out more:

  • Help save Stiltsville
  • Our National Parks.US - Stiltsville
  • To stay at Stiltsville: Visit the Stiltsville Trust
  • Cruise and view Stiltsville: Miami Beach Visitors Center
  • Information on 'Crawfish Eddie" from Wikipedia
  • Thank you to Miami Beach Real Estate