When my house was build 100 years ago, it had a porch. Historically, porches in the United States have a cultural significance. Porches were places to cool off in the days prior to air conditioning, to commune with nature, and talk with neighbors and passersby. They were designed to be something unique to the US, taking cues from Dutch, Western Caribbean and Italian homes. According to freelance writer Lynn Freehill-Maye “In the young U.S., the porch became a signature of the proud new federal architectural style. It developed a folk-mythic history from Mount Vernon and Monticello onward. George Washington and Thomas Jefferson set the trend with grand-entrance platforms to their estate houses. James Garfield, Benjamin Harrison, and William McKinley were all elected president after successful front-porch campaigns, a tactic popular in the late 1800s in which candidates stayed home and asked voters to come to their homes if they wanted to hear a campaign speech. For everyone else, the porch worked as a spot to do homely chores like shuck beans,” (link)
As air conditioning became widespread, the need for porches lessened. By the 1960s, porches had disappeared from new homes as ranch and split levels became popular. and later, a large garage in the front of the home. During this time, my house had its porch torn off and an attached garage added
In the 90s, porches began their revival with about 40% of new homes built having a front porch. My house, on the other hand, had no porch. It looked okay but as if it had no time period and was missing something. And oh, the front door took a beating.
The porch is making a comeback. In 2004 half of all new homes came with a porch and in 2016, 65% of homes were built with a front porch–particularly in the east- south central region of the US. The preferred porch is an open porch with no screens. There are even concerts held on porches these days, Porchfests they are called.
I decided that for the house’s 100th birthday, I’d put a porch back on the house.
To start things off, I found a porch I liked on line. I didn’t want to go for the wrap around of the original because the house has been modified to not accommodate this style.
I contacted a builder and he made a sketch that fit the house and he gave a reasonable quote.
We replaced the door and decided to reopen a transom window to let in more light.The carpenter said that the house is still as square as the day it was built.
Here’s the inside view of that.
We picked the fixtures to match one inside.
Here’s the finished porch.
Psychologically, the entryway feels more cozy and approachable now. The house fits with the neighborhood.
We need to re-stucco the cement–I’ll update you with a post on how to do that–and add appropriate plantings and furniture.
And yes, we painted the ceiling blue to scare away evil spirits and welcome the sky inside. Next summer, the whole house will get a new coat of paint. Not bad for 100 years!