Thursday, July 28, 2011


I recently read an article by Rebecca J. Rosen in the July 14 issue of The Atlantic, "Keepin' It Cool: How the Air Conditioner Made Modern America" ( where she praises this transformative modern technology.

As much as I appreciate the 78 degree indoor temperature at my house (especially after mowing the grass and weeding the garden in mid-afternoon July temperatures!) I am not so enamored of many of the other changes wrought by air conditioning that Rosen finds so praiseworthy.

Rosen writes that, "many [older] homes had porches where families could spend a hot day, and also sleeping porches with beds where they could ride out a hot night.... Besides housing design, people had other tricks: taking naps during the heat of the day, carrying hand-held fans around, and, of course, swimming."

She continues: "Houses [today] are designed not for ventilation but for central cooling systems. Porches, where they exist, are relics of another age, and few new homes include them. Families gather inside, in the comfort of 72-degree living rooms, to watch TV."

Perhaps it is time to re-invent the porch...where families can gather late in the afternoon to wave to passers-by, or to chat with neighbors who stop for a visit. Maybe a sleeping porch is not such a bad idea either. Imagine sleeping with a mild breeze blowing over you, listening to crickets, and watching lightning bugs flit by as your eyelids close in sleep.

Then, of course, there is the mid-day nap, funeral parlor fans...and swimming! Sure, I know that modern life (office jobs, school, etc.) doesn't leave much time for naps and mid-day swimming, but wouldn't it be nice to bring back just a little more of that sense of community and a slightly more relaxed lifestyle?

Wave when you walk by our house on Lawton Lane. We're often sitting on the porch in the morning, and in the late afternoon!

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of the Night Blooming Cereus Cactus, by Lou Ann. You can read it here:


  1. Anonymous10:10 AM

    I adore porches! If I'm ever fortunate enough to have one, the first thing I would do is decorate it with a statue of my idol, Willis Carrier (inventor of AC).

  2. We're planning on expanding the porch at 79 Lighthouse, but been told that the "no-see-ems" can make sleeping on the porch a bit uncomfortable!

  3. Reggie11:16 AM

    While growing up in Ohio, my family was on the porch as often as possible. We played cards, told stories, examined lightning bugs and laughed a lot. All of the neighborhood used to stop by and sit a spell. My parents were there watching us play in the yard, and the glider was constantly moving back and forth. I still love a porch, especially in a neighborhood where you can watch the world go by and say hi. I think a house looks naked without a porch, and offers no transition space from the street to the house. Porches are the kind of space that people are drawn to, and in architecture, to me, that is a space that works. And a screened-in porch - the closest thing to heaven on earth. Viva porches!

  4. Anonymous12:15 PM

    Excuse me, but lest we forget the true inventor of the ice machine/ conditioned air to treat yellow fever patients was John Gorrie. A museum in Apalachicola, Florida explains the history of the efforts of this young Doctor. On the subject of porches, unless your house is built on site to take the prevailing breezes into consideration---- the Neighborhood" of cookie cutter houses built to maximize profit in a business model and well you know where am going with this er ending on a brighter note Seaside Florida what a neighborhood was meant to be....

  5. I love porches! We have been getting estimates for construction of one on the front of our home in Catonsville, MD. We have had to put it on hold for various reasons but I am chomping at the bit. We have a screened in porch on the back of the house that we are on every chance we get. Our neighbors across the street are out on their front porch all the time and I love to just stroll over and gab with them for a little bit. It must be the all mighty dollar that has made porches fewer and far between. It's probably cheaper to leave one off than to build one. You just can't beat the feeling of sitting outside enjoying the breeze, crickets and socializing.

  6. debbie s.2:07 PM

    i do love my front porch!

  7. Anonymous3:05 PM

    I was fortunate to be in a house recently where the front/back porch doors were open and a breeze just passed all through the hallway. It took me back in time!

    On another note....last night, there was a beautiful sunset over Silver Lake Harbor. How in the world does this NC mainlander know even though I'm 6 hours away? I enjoyed my evening ritual, sitting in front of the computer and viewing Captains Landing (& Ocracoke Harbor Inn) web-cams. Between 8 and 8:30, I was treated to seeing not only the ferry arriving, but Windfall II sailing in the sound and harbor along with numerous fishing boats and another "unknown" sailboat. I watched until Windfall II dropped off the passengers and returned to the dock. The sun was setting and it was a gorgeous orange and pink glow.

    If one can't physically be there enjoying firsthand the beauty of Ocracoke, these wonderful web-cams surely are the next best thing.

    When I went to bed last night, I do believe I was less stressed!

  8. I love the web cams too.

    regarding porches I like sitting outside watching thunder storms

    thing thunder storms

  9. I have never lived in a house, since I have been a grown up, without a porch. It is where I start the day and end the day. In Indiana, my porch is screened and glassed in with old rope windows as it gets mighty chilly there. It is, nonetheless, the gathering place for neighbors. Here on Ocracoke, you can find me out on the pizer early in the morning drinking my morning coffee as I watch the shadows disappear and day begin. Nighttime finds the both of us watching stars and chatting about the day until bedtime calls. Porches. Build one.

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