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Tuesday, June 23, 2020

In Other Words: Let Us Praise the Front Porch

Margie Reinert Hegge's front porch: Courtesy Margie Reinert Hegge

By Chuck Keller

I admit that I do not like the newer soulless tract homes that don’t have a proper front porch. You know the kind where you’re usually greeted by a double car garage door and the front door is off center and appears small and insignificant because people don’t enter the house that way.  But that’s another pet peeve for another time. I could never live in a house without a front porch.

The front porch was a common architectural feature prior to air conditioned homes. People would sit outside in the morning, drinking coffee, or reading the newspaper.
Front porch addition. Courtesy: Amy Goshorn

Then later they would enjoy cool evenings chatting, playing games, reading, enjoying a cold beverage, or listening to a ball game. In fact, people are adding front porches to their homes.

Porch of Nancy and Mark Bardgett: Courtesy Nancy Bardgett
Air conditioning changed everything. Houses closed up. The porch and people disappeared. The backyard deck ruled. But I’ve noticed a change - especially in some of our older neighborhoods. People are out front again. On porches. In front yards. People are engaging with each other after dealing with the quarantine. And even though many restrictions have been lifted it is good to see that many of the “new” patterns continue. The front porch has become important again.

Andi Martin's porch: Courtesy Andi Martin
In this town the sidewalks bustle with walkers, runners, dog walkers, strollers, and children learning independence with scooters and training wheels. And now people are on porches. I see walkers stopping to chat with someone on a front porch. They wave, laugh, chat and enjoy the interaction. But that sounds so transactional. It’s so much more than that. People encourage each other. They build and maintain community and friendships.

The Shelton Home decorated for Halloween. Courtesy Julie Shelton

We sit on our front porch at the end of the day. In the morning. During storms. For meals. It’s really the nicest room in our house. Many times we chat with passers by. We also maintain a water bowl for the dogs but I’ve seen the neighbor’s cats, passing deer, and birds drinking as well. It’s a gathering place.

The view from Brenda Spade's front porch. Courtesy Brenda Spade

The front porch is community. Neighbors visit. Children lounge. News is exchanged. New friends are made. It's a place to think, meditate, pray, and slow down. Porches are decorated for holidays, graduations, births, and seasons. Life is good on the porch.

The porch is the entry, the welcome center, to the home. The next time you’re out for a walk, chat up those you see on their porches.

The Heilman porch in Tower Park tumbles into the yard: Courtesy Jeff Heilman

Some porches are bare. Some are elaborately decorated. But the porch is your home’s handshake to the world. It’s how you present yourself to the community. The front porch is part of our community’s public living room.  It’s the place where memories are made and stored. Secrets are revealed, kisses are stolen, hands are held, fireflies caught and released, and music made. Porches are comfortable and safe. Roots are planted and watered there.

Long live front porches.

Courtesy: Brittney Dawn Trimble-Bell

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