Bring­ing It Back

Miss­ing, per­haps, from the time the house was built, the should-have-been porch com­pletes this shin­gled Foursquare.

Arts and Crafts Homes - - CONTENTS - by Mary Ellen Pol­son

The should-have-been porch.

NO MO­TORIST OR PASSERBY ever slowed down to take in the large but painfully plain, hipped-roof dwelling that sits sur­rounded by Shin­gle Style and late Vic­to­rian-era houses. That’s changed, now that a grace­fully pro­por­tioned ve­ran­dah wraps the house. Best of all, the New Eng­land porch looks like it’s al­ways been there. by Mary Ellen Pol­son

That the house ei­ther once had a porch or was in­tended to have one is ev­i­dent from its po­si­tion on the lot, says ar­chi­tect Mathew Cum­mings, who de­signed the ad­di­tion. “Ev­ery house on the street has the same set­back, but this one was set fur­ther back. Thus a front porch was re­moved—or was planned for, yet never built.”

Charged with adding char­ac­ter to make the house bet­ter fit the neigh­bor­hood, and at the same time add out­door space, Cum­mings first did a study of the street loaded with pe­riod houses built ca. 1890–1920s. Ex­am­in­ing de­tails on nearby houses al­lowed Cum­mings to de­velop a suit­able pro­file for one that had lacked ar­chi­tec­tural in­ter­est.

The house shows a tran­si­tion from late Arts & Crafts to­ward Colo­nial Re­vival styles, and the new porch re­flects that. The porch roof is sup­ported by short­ened Doric col­umns mounted on bat­tered (flared) piers or pedestals. The pedestals, a fa­vorite type on bun­ga­low porches, are shin­gled, adding tex­ture.

To give weight and pres­ence to the en­try, the col­umns are paired to sup­port a shal­low ped­i­ment. Rail­ings on ei­ther side of the steps also end in flared, shin­gled piers, with caps that co­or­di­nate with the pro­por­tions of other el­e­ments. The new deck­ing is a sus­tain­able trop­i­cal wood; over­head, the ceil­ing is clad in beaded fir tongue-and-groove boards.

Since the porch is low to the ground, the rail­ings weren’t re­quired to meet the new stan­dard build­ing code height for rails, typ­i­cally 36". Cum­mings chose a more his­tor­i­cally ap­pro-

pri­ate height, 27", then added a curv­ing el­bow to the end of each sec­tion. He based the curve pro­file for the el­bow on one of the few ex­te­rior de­tails on the ex­ist­ing house: a small, shin­gled swoop on the roof.

Cum­mings drew ev­ery com­po­nent to scale, from the brick piers be­neath the porch to the place­ment of re­in­forced ceil­ing joists to sup­port porch swings in two lo­ca­tions. He also sup­plied de­tailed in­struc­tions for ty­ing the new work to the ex­ist­ing house, spec­i­fy­ing both a wa­ter­proof mem­brane and metal flash­ing around the ar­eas where the porch joists tie into the house.

If Cum­mings has a fa­vorite el­e­ment, it’s the lat­tice screen on the side porch, copied from a sim­i­lar de­tail he spot­ted on McKim, Mead & White’s New­port Casino. “I thought, here’s a chance to do that lat­tice with the beau­ti­ful oval,” he says. “It fits in per­fectly.” a

Al­though the porch is only 8½' deep, it lives large, with invit­ing swings and an al­fresco din­ing area. The ar­chi­tect bor­rowed the oval lat­tice el­e­ment from a de­sign by the renowned ƬUP 0F.LP 0HDG :KLWH LEFT Once bland, the house has blos­somed into a beauty with the ad­di­tion of a hand­some porch.

ABOVE The porch plan en­hanced the boxy shape of the house and added gra­cious out­door liv­ing space. IN­SET Be­fore, the hipped URRI DQG WKLUG ƮRRU GRUPHU UHDG DV $PHULFDQ )RXUVTXDUH EXW ZKHUH ZDV WKH GHƬQLQJ IURQW porch? LEFT 7LHUV RI VKLQJOHV RQ ƮDUHG SRUFK SLHUV DGG WH[WXUH WR D NH\ HOHPHQW RI WKH GHVLJQ BE­FORE

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