Quick. Name some things we have learned or experienced from The Year of the COVID. Ready. Set. Go!
1. Clean hands are good.
2. Having to smell your own breath in a mask is bad.
3. Food To Go just doesn’t taste the same as when it’s in the restaurant.
4. There are too many shows to watch.
The list is not long nor distinguished. However, let’s take a moment and welcome an old friend that COVID has helped us reconnect with, a tried-and-true staple of Americana — the front porch.
The Rise and Fall of the Front Porch
Porches were common parts of homes for centuries. When there was no air conditioning in a home, people needed a place to get away from the hot kitchen, so they retreated to this covered, outdoor area of the home.
Not only were porches an escape, but they were also a casual gathering place for neighbors to visit and enjoy one another’s company. What a novel idea.
With residents gathering on each other’s porches, neighborhoods felt safe. If your kindly neighbor always spent their days sitting on the porch looking out onto the street, they knew everybody’s comings and goings, so a parent might feel a little safer with their children playing out front with the friendly neighborhood watch “on duty.”
The end of World War II brought more affordable homes to millions of Americans. People moved to the suburbs, but porches were not as commonly built.
Gone were Craftsman-styled homes with deep porches. Ranch-style homes were en vogue where patios were all the rage. All of a sudden homeowners were more concerned with the back yard BBQ parties and private yards than seeing their neighbors passing by.
Today, in a day-and-age where homeowners and sellers think about the cost per foot of a home, the porch is only an added expense. Short-sighted production builders see the porch as an item that doesn’t make money. Rarely can you find a porch on a newly constructed production home that measures more than five feet — a depth that nearly makes the space almost unusable.
Is the porch doomed?
Then COVID happened
Just when it looked as if porches had no place in homes, The Year of the COVID happened. Now we were encouraged to get outside and stand away from others. What we have learned as a society is that we like to be around people. We are not designed to be isolated for long periods of time.
We need front porches again!
Hopefully, this year will encourage more-and-more builders to create homes with appropriately-sided porches. A recent article in the Wall Street Journal showed that homes with porches actually have a greater return than those without.
People are realizing that porches on homes not only look good, not only sell for more, not only provide security for the community, but are important staples of our lives that should never be taken for granted.
What are you waiting for? Join the porch revolution. Grab your favorite drink or musical instrument or book and head to your porch. Enjoy waiving to strangers pushing strollers or walking dogs. Have a conversation with a neighbor who just happened to be working in their yard.
Finally, something positive from The Year of the COVID…who knows when this will end.