What happened to the front porch? The place where people would hang out and enjoy the company of their neighbors. The place where one could sit back in a rocking chair and watch the storm come in. The place where one might simply choose to relax and enjoy watching the happenings around them. It appears as the front porch has all but vanished from the American home.
Michael Dolan provides us with a history of this subject in his book entitled The American Porch: An Informal History of an Informal Place. Some suggest the American front porch was popularized in the mid 1800’s, and by the end of the 19th century could be found in most rural, as well as, inner city neighborhoods.
However, the popularity of the front porch began to fall from fame around the end of World War II, when air conditioning and automobiles changed the way Americans choose to live. The shift went from the front of the house to the back of the house. The privacy fences came up and the social interaction amongst neighbors was lost. Interacting on Facebook, in the privacy of our own homes or backyards, seems to have replaced the front porch.
Some studies show the popularity of the front porch is coming back. However, Dolan concludes that the front porches being built on homes today represent a throwback to another time and are rarely actually used. They are positioned to suggest what we could do if we had the time.
I believe the concepts of minimalism can help regain that lost time which seems to elude us. Ridding the clutter from our lives can help give us back precious time that can be spent elsewhere…like sitting on the front porch.