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Porches of North America

Thomas Durant Visser

Publication Year: 2012

The porch, whether simple or grand, evokes feelings of welcome, comfort, and nostalgia in all of us, yet there has been little published on the history of this omnipresent architectural feature. This book examines how porches in their many forms have evolved in the United States and Canada through innovations, adaptations, and revivals. Covering formal porches and verandas, as well as the many informal vernacular types, this book proffers insights into broad cultural customs and patterns, as well as regional preferences and usage.

Lavishly illustrated with contemporary and historic photographs, Porches of North America provides a chronological and typological framework for identifying historic porches. All those who love to while away afternoons on a favorite porch will find this architectural history delightful as well as informative.

Published by: University Press of New England

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii-x

Though one may be hard-pressed to name another architectural feature that can prompt such tenacious feelings of welcome, comfort, and nostalgia, it is surprising that not more has been published on the history of porches. In response, this book examines how porches in their many forms...

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1. History

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pp. 1-78

With a history that can be traced to antiquity, a wide variety of porches, including porticos, piazzas, and verandas, blossomed forth as forms of architectural plumage in North America more than two centuries ago. As places to greet the world, as shelters to celebrate arrivals and departures...

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2. Character, Functions, and Furnishings

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pp. 79-97

Certainly, the location of a veranda can help to harmoniously connect a house with its setting. Architect Gervase Wheeler noted this synergy in 1867 in his Homes for the People in Suburb and Country: “By the side of a river where a grassy lawn slopes to its brink, with woods forming the background, the villa should be designed with long parallel lines, low, and not much broken by irregular heights, wide spreading verandas, overhanging...

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3. Classical Order

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pp. 98-144

Any attempt to appreciate the depth of meanings and symbolism associated with classical architectural forms must first start with a review the classical orders and then explore how they have been used through waves of architectural design innovations and revivals. Classical styles of architecture that were fundamentally based on elaborations of the Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian...

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4. Various Forms

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pp. 145-181

Although the most common form of entry porch in North America has open sides and a roof supported by posts, there is also a long history of attached porches being enclosed with walls to provide protection for entrances.1 Indeed such enclosed entry porches were being attached to houses, barns, and other buildings to protect entrances during Elizabethan times in Britain...

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5. Victorian Porch Styles

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pp. 182-228

A broad range of architectural styles based on Romantic interpretations or “revivals,” including the Gothic, Italianate, Venetian, Tuscan, Swiss, French, Oriental, Chinese, and Rustic styles, emerged as the role of the professional architect rose in importance in Europe, North America, and elsewhere in the industrialized world during the nineteenth century. Although the precedents for...

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6. Post-Victorian Styles

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pp. 229-247

The post-Victorian Progressive era of the early twentieth century brought such innovation and prodigious eclecticism to domestic architectural design in North America that it can be challenging to make precise classifications among the many architectural styles of houses with porches built during this period. Indeed, evidence of specific architectural styles of twentieth-century...

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pp. 248-254

As times and attitudes have changed with passing generations, so too have the designs of their buildings. The symbolic social messages of openness, leisure, and welcome that porches convey stand in sharp contrast with the defensive, protective, and exclusionary warnings implied by the strongbox-like house designs more popular before and after the Porch Age. And so, after the final fling of...


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pp. 255-278

Glossary of Porch Terms

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pp. 279-282


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pp. 283-294

E-ISBN-13: 9781611682212
E-ISBN-10: 1611682215
Print-ISBN-13: 9781611682205

Page Count: 352
Publication Year: 2012