The Sunday porch: Washington, D.C.

Portico of the National Gallery of Art, Washington, March 1943, by Esther Bubley, via Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

The captions of similar Bubley photos indicate that the image was taken on a Sunday afternoon as she was following sightseeing servicemen around The Mall taking pictures for the Office of War Information Service.

The Sunday porch: Edgemont

Edgemont, Covesville, VA, Library of CongressEdgemont (or Cocke Farm), Albemarle County, Virginia, 1935, by Frances Benjamin Johnston, via Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

Built ca. 1796 for James Powell Cocke, Edgemont is significant as a very early example of a country residence in the combination Palladian and French manner promulgated by Thomas Jefferson. Although the design of the house has been credited to Jefferson for several decades, precise documentation of the authorship remains yet to be established. The character* of the compact and sophisticated dwelling is uniquely Jeffersonian, however, and exhibits the influence he had on the architecture of his region. . . .

from the 1980 nomination to the National Register of Historic Places

At the time of the photo, only two porticoes of the probable original four still existed. The house was restored and renovated in the late 1930s and 1940s. There are more F.B.J. photos here and 1996 photos here.

* “a formality and classical correctness devoid of monumentality. . .”

The Sunday porch: the portico

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A late afternoon gathering on the south portico (or back porch) of the White House, probably between 1890 and 1910, photographer unknown, via the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

Encyclopedia Britannica defines ‘portico’ as a “colonnaded porch or entrance to a structure, or a covered walkway supported by regularly spaced columns. Porticoes formed the entrances to ancient Greek temples.”

The south portico of the White House was built in 1824, principally from an 1807 design by architect Benjamin Henry Latrobe, then Surveyor of Public Buildings.  Latrobe was appointed and supervised by Thomas Jefferson, who loved  neoclassical design and called Palladio’s books “the bible.”

The South of France

Roman temple
“simple and sublime”

Maria Cosway
harpist
on his mind

white column
and arch

Lorine Niedecker, from “Thomas Jefferson

The Sunday porch: vine-covered, par excellence

On abandon, uncalled for but called forth. . . .*

full croppedI think this is the loveliest wisteria I have ever seen.  It grew on the porch columns of “Wisteria House,” at Massachusetts Avenue and Eleventh Street, N.W., in Washington, D.C. The photo was taken in 1919, by Martin A. Gruber.**

The house was torn down in 1924 to make room for the Wisteria Mansion apartment building.

Wisteria House detail, 1919, via Smithsonian Institution CommonsA naval officer brought the vine from China and gave it to the owner of the house, probably during the 1860s, according to the blog Greater Greater Washington.

Wisteria House, Harris & Ewing photoThe Harris & Ewing** photo above, taken between 1910 and 1920, shows the trunks of the (one?) plant emerging through openings at the base of the porch.  The house was built in 1863, and the two-story portico was added in 1869 — so it looks like the wisteria was planted between those years and protected during the construction.

Wisteria House, LOC photoThe National Photo Company image above shows the house about 1920.


*Lucie Brock-Broido, from “Extreme Wisteria

**Top and second (a detail of the first) photos via the Smithsonian Institution Archives Commons on flickr.  Third and fourth photos via Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.