The Sunday porch: Camden, Alabama

Front of the Robert Tait House, Camden, Alabama, 1936, by Alex Bush for an Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS), via Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division (all three photos).

Looking west on the south porch. It looks as though the ceiling has been painted the traditional blue. And note that the columns do not rest on the porch floor foundation, but on the ground just in front of it, making this a Carolina or rain porch.

The house was built for Robert Tait in 1855. It still stands.

Looking north on the west porch.

The Sunday porch: Williamsboro, N.C.

 “Blooming Hope” (also called “Cedar Walk”), Williamsboro, North Carolina, 1938, by Frances Benjamin Johnston, via Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

I like the way the vines are a little blurry from a sudden gust of wind.

The home may have been built as early as the 1750s by a Hutchins (or possibly Robert) Burton, who called it “Blooming Hope.” He may have operated a boarding school there. It also seems to have served as an academy for young ladies later in the early 1800s, run by the Rev. Henry Patillo. At some point in its first 100 years, there was a suicide in the house (either Burton or Patillo’s son), and it acquired a reputation as haunted. It was torn down in 1967.

The Sunday porch: Route 800

barnesville-oh-1974-documerica-u-s-national-archives“Residents of an older home,* built in the 1850’s, take advantage of the summer weather to sit on their front porch off Route #800.” Barnesville, Ohio, July 1974. Below, the back porch.


Both photos above were taken by Erik Calonius for DOCUMERICA, an early photography program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). They are shown, with the original caption, via The U.S. National Archives Commons on flickr.

From 1972 to 1977, the EPA hired over 100 photographers to “document subjects of environmental concern.” They created an archive of about 20,000 images.

In addition to recording damage to the nation’s landscapes, the project captured “the era’s trends, fashions, problems, and achievements,” according to the Archives, which held an exhibit of the photos, “Searching for the Seventies,” in 2013.

By 1974, the proliferation of porchless ranch-style houses, air-conditioning, and television had made sitting on a shady front porch in hot weather something of an anomaly for many Americans.

*A visitor to the first photo’s flickr page wrote, “This house stood on the north side of State Route 800, near Barnesville, at about 40.014772, -81.168533. The section pictured here may have been of log construction.”

The Sunday porch: cozy

The Sunday porch:enclos*ure- cozy porch interior, ca. 1900, via Library of CongressEnclosed porch, location unknown, ca. 1900 – ca. 1920s, by Bain News Service, via Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

Nice. . . chintz, wicker, books, and potted geraniums — and I love that swing.  There are striped awnings outside over the windows.

. . . You’re bunkered in your
Aerie, I’m perched in mine. . .
We’re content, but fall short of the Divine.
Still, it’s embarrassing, this happiness—
Who’s satisfied simply with what’s good for us
When has the ordinary ever been news?

Rita Dove, from “Cozy Apologia