Sand Hill Farm – Front Porch

The New Urbanism movement has mourned the loss of the front porch for some time.  Part of the premise of this is that the rise of the car, caused the demise of the porch.  Older homes in older neighborhoods were close to the sidewalk and a front porch was a place to sit and talk to your neighbors as they walked by.   Subdivisions of the seventies began moving the home away from the street, added a long driveway where cars could park and the porch shrank to be nothing but a stoop where guests stood waiting to be allowed entrance to the home.  Large wrap around porches were replaced with double garage doors as a main feature on the front of the home.  The car as your way out of the neighborhood became more important than the porch as a connection to the neighborhood.

 On many of the older homes in Culver, the porches have been enclosed with storm windows.Wesley Thrift Shop  I’m sure at one time this was an attempt to increase the usable space.  From what I’ve noticed though, most of these have become nothing more than storage areas.  They are no longer a connection to the community, they aren’t heated for winter use and they aren’t air conditioned for summerOhio Street Home comfort. 

The windows are generally double-hung storm windows which effectively cut the air flow to less than half what was there originally.  The porch is no longer inviting… it is now a dusty, cold, often dark, vestibule.  It’s lost its purpose.

 

Cass Street DuplexesI’ve noted with interest the small duplex development that Mr. & Mrs. Winters built on Cass Street.  My parents live in that neighbor- hood and I have seen people sitting on the side porch that faces the street, watching the traffic, the walkers and the kids on bikes.  Each unit also has a small front porch and in all cases there is a table & chairs or a porch swing indicating that the residents are making use of these porches. My concern in this layout is that the “front yard” of these units is effectively an expanse of asphalt.  While this doesn’t seem to have deterred rentals in this successful development, I look forward to experimenting on how it can be improved in the Sand Hill Farm development.

In researching this, I ran across this American Profile Article on Front Porches:  http://www.americanprofile.com/article/27639.html  It’s no doubt written better than my little dissertation here and it expresses some of the same sense of loss.  There seems to be a longing for more “community”.  I think this is a goal worth including in subdivision design.

Kevin

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