The Sunday porch: Austin, Texas

A repeat porch from June 2014. . .
Austin dogtrot, 1935, via Texas State Archives“Remains of log dogtrot house near Webberville Road. . . Austin Texas,” 1935, probably by Fannie Ratchford, via Texas State Archives.

Unfortunately, it’s a little out of focus, but still beautiful.

. . .  I woo the wind
That still delays his coming. Why so slow,
Gentle and voluble spirit of the air?
Oh, come and breathe upon the fainting earth
Coolness and life!

— William Cullen Bryant, from “Summer Wind

Vintage landscape: the stage

2 Piranhurst, California, 1917, F.B. Johnston, Library of CongressThe outdoor theater of the Piranhurst estate of Henry Ernest and Ellen Chabot Bothin, Montecito, California, 1917, hand-colored glass lantern slides by Frances Benjamin Johnston, via Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

4 Piranhurst, California, 1917, F.B. Johnston, Library of Congress

The Bothin’s fortune was made in coffee and spices (San Francisco), real estate, and water. Their estate became famous in the 1920s for the parties and performances held in its 350-acre “Tea Gardens” — which included the clipped cypress theater shown here.

3 Piranhurst, California, 1917, F.B. Johnston, Library of Congress
Looking from the stage to the box seats.

Today, the site is in ruins and is part of the Mar Y Cel open space preserve.  There are histories of the property here and here.

1 Piranhurst, California, 1917, F.B. Johnston, Library of Congress
The backstage wings, a photo by F. B. Johnston, 1917, also via Library of Congress.

The Sunday porch: Washington, D.C.

A repeat porch from September 2013. . .
Wash. D.C., rowhouses, via Library of CongressSeven Washington, D.C., rowhouses, 1939, by David Myers, via Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

The name of the neighborhood was not given in the original caption.  It was only described as “one of the nicer old sections of the city.” It looks like Capitol Hill to me.

In his book, The American Porch, Michael Dolan attempts to trace the European, African, and Asian origins of our many types of porches.  The front stoop — several steps and a small landing — came from the Dutch.

Down the coast [from New England], in Nieuw Amsterdam, a different entry was proliferating.  Made of stone or brick, the stoep — Dutch for “step” — was a roofless link between doorway and street.  Though municipal tradition required a building’s occupants to maintain the stoep, the Dutch deemed it public territory.  However, in Nieuw Amsterdam, the stoop acquired a private connotation:  “. . . before each door there was an elevation, to which you could ascend by some steps from the street,” an observer wrote.  “It resembled a small balcony, and had some benches on both sides on which the people sat in the evening, in order to enjoy the fresh air, and have the pleasure of viewing those who passed it.”

The stoops above lack benches, but the owner of the first one has brought down a chair, and two doors down there is a park bench in the tiny garden.  You can see a similar arrangement here.