Emporia

Miraculous Survivors: Porches

While wood houses can last centuries (with a decent roof), wood porches are rarely so lucky. Porches are highly vulnerable to the elements, and in an age before pressure-treated lumber became the norm, wood porches rotted. It was not uncommon for an 1895 wood porch to be totally punky by 1915.

Porches are also highly vulnerable to fashion. This seems odd, right? But people are as prone to architectural fashion as they are to sartorial fashion as they are to automotive fashion. In short, people hate being unfashionable (in high school, I remember being embarrassed because my parent’s car was six years old. In junior high, I was MORTIFIED when my mother would not buy me bell-bottom jeans. “Mom! All the other kids are wearing bell-bottoms!”).

A quick way (relatively speaking) to update a house is to replace its porch. If the porch is already a rotting mess, all the more reason. As such, legions of Victorian-era porches were torn off and replaced circa-1915 with Mission-style porches or 1950s Mid-Century Modern porches or 1970s “New Orleans-style” porches and so on. About twenty years ago the dreaded Home Depot-style porch made its appearance. Sigh.

As I drive around Emporia I am always on the alert for porches original to what they are attached to. Intact porches are not only a pleasure to view, they are invaluable as templates. If you, for example, are missing your original porch, copying a neighbor’s original porch may not be a bad idea, provided their house is similar to yours.

 

902 Congress.
902 Congress. This house dates from the 1870s or 1880s. It likely had iron cresting on the flat part of the roof. The front siding looks 1950s. But the porch seems original (or a good later copy).

 

902 Congress
The patriotic porch of 902 Congress.

 

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913 Congress. Lurking under this heavily renovated facade is a cool old house. What is particularly astounding is that through all the many updates the original porch has managed to hang on.

 

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913 Congress. The reason why new “old style” porches from Home Depot never look right is a matter of scale. Home Depot porch components are much thinner, more spindly than the beefy, gorgeous parts as seen here.

 

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913 Congress. The balustrade is later but most of the porch bits seem original.

 

918 Market Street. Save the porch railings and lattice, 918 appears to be a remarkable, and very attractive, survivor.
918 Market Street. Save the porch railings and lattice, 918 appears to be a remarkable, and very attractive, survivor.

 

918 Market Street.
918 Market Street.

 

918 Market Street.
918 Market Street.

 

638 Lincoln.
638 Lincoln. The house has been covered in vinyl siding. The porch balustrade is not original. But the columns and upper detailing seem original.

 

638 Lincoln.
638 Lincoln.

 

638 Lincoln.
638 Lincoln.

 

 

1017 Mechanic.
1017 Mechanic. The siding and porch railings are of course later, but the rest of the porch seems original. The house would be a mighty charmer if restored.

 

1017 Mechanic.
1017 Mechanic.

 

1017 Mechanic.
1017 Mechanic. What is so appealing about the porch is its simplicity, yet is still is visually compelling. Nice. UPDATE: The house was demolished by the city of Emporia in May, 2015.

 

More porches to follow as I find ’em…

 

One Response to Miraculous Survivors: Porches

  1. Thank you so much for sharing your love and journey of these old houses.

    I too return home to Morgan City, Louisiana, and walk about and take oodles of picture of old houses. I’m astonished so many do not appreciate old architecture. Sad to see many go to waste.

    Thank you again for this delightful journey. I feel we are kindred spirits.

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