August 8, 2006

The origins of the American porch

NPR's All Things Considered is running a porch stories series this summer. I posted about the first story in the series on July 28. Since then, I have started a local porch sitters union in Berkeley. There are only two members, for now. This local has spawned one in SW Portland (Oregon) and maybe another in Connecticut. You can submit a porch story to All Things Considered. I don't have a story for the series (though I have lots of memories on various Jamaican verandahs and American stoops, porches, balconies, decks) but I have a bit of architectural history. The porch, according to John Michael Vlach (America's Architectural Roots, edited by Dell Upton, 1986), is an African house design. He writes that there is "no antecedent for the front porch, as it is commonly found in the South" in England or other parts of northern Europe (p. 45). Heat and humidity were catalysts for the porch design and its various iterations - verandahs and galleries Other stories in the NPR series are: August 1 : Porches Knit Together New Urbanist Communities August 4 : A New Orleans Stoop: Solace After the Storm

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