Throughout American history the front porch represented the ideal of community. It existed as a zone between the public and private – an area that could be shared between the sanctity of the home and the community outside.
The front porch had all but disappeared by the 1960’s. American society changed and technological as well as cultural forces pushed the porch to the back or side yard.
Thankfully, what goes around, comes around and after decades of disfavor and decline, the porch is making a tremendous comeback as an “outdoor room” for relaxing, dining and connecting with neighbors.
Rather than being an extension of a home, porches are becoming an integral part of the homeowner’s daily life. According to a June 2014 report by the Census Bureau, 63 percent of new single-family homes built in 2013 had porches, up from 42% in 1993.
In another report by The Wall Street Journal (7.24.2014), in the luxury-housing niche, porches are being designed as fully functional outdoor rooms that feature everything from built-in speakers to solar and wind-activated awnings. Cage-like screens have been replaced by fine mesh made of bronze or vinyl-coated aluminum.
In the end, however, it makes little difference whether you live in a house, townhouse or condo, if your porch is large or small. What matters is that you enjoy it. After all, you can’t do dishes, fold laundry, sweep the floor, or fret about a disorganized closet when you are sitting on the porch.
Share your favorite porch story.
“The American Porch: An Informal History of an Informal Place”, by Michael Dolan
“The Architectural and Social Space of the American Front Porch”, by Joan Malerba-Foran