Friday, June 29, 2007

Porchin it

"Porches are as synonymous with American culture as apple pie. While not unknown in colonial times, they rose to nationwide popularity in the decades before the Civil War, and remained in fashion for almost one hundred years. Ironically, the very social and technological forces that made them both popular and possible were eventually responsible for their decline."
-- from Kahn, Preserving Porches

Historically, "the original concept of a porch can be traced back to the overhanging rock shelters of prehistoric times"

The word "porch" originally derives from "the latin word porticus, or the greek word portico, both of which signify the columned entry to a Classical temple"
By the 1840's technology and industrialization had created a "substantial leisure class, free from the endless survival chores of the Colonial era"
Furthermore, new technological advances made building porches less expensive and easier.
"a porch strengthens or conveys expression of purpose, because, instead of leaving the entrance door bare, as in manufactories and buildings of inferior description it serves both as a note of preparation, and an effectual shelter and protection to the entrance."(Downing
it may be seen that the American front porch demonstrated Americans' simultaneous ideals of nature and its control
The porch further fostered a sense of community and neighborliness
Nobody thought much about the front porch when most Americans had them and used them. "The great American front porch was just there, open and sociable, an unassigned part of the house that belonged to everyone and no one, a place for family and friends to pass the time."



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