Hudson Valley Connoisseur (June-July 2007)


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Kicking Back

by Jackie DiMarzo

There's a 150-year-old farmhouse on Hynes Road in Poughquag that's seen a lot of history. The home's simple, sturdy construction has housed its residents through rough winters and steamy summers. Families were raised here, vaudeville actors once boarded here and through it all, the front porch was always the center of family activities, current owner Karen Schwark recalls. Owned for generations by the Hynes family, the house was purchased by Schwark and her husband 32 years ago. They were married in the living room. "We planned to have the reception inside our dining room, but it was a lovely day in September and everybody ended up on the front porch," she said.

Ahh, the front porch. Most likely, everyone has a porch experience somewhere in their memories. Because that's where most front porches are … in our memories. But recently, there's been a trend to bring this small slice of Americana back into our lives.

According to the National Association of Homebuilders, a study released by the U.S. Census Bureau last year revealed that "between 1992 and 2005, the proportion of newly built homes with porches rose from 42 percent to 53 percent." A slow progression, true, but isn't slow the operative word when it comes to porches? Time just seems to move differently out there.

James Crisp, of Crisp Architects in Millbrook, said the houses that his firm designs almost universally have a porch somewhere. Most have not one but several – front, rear, glassed or screened, and second story. "People are realizing the value of the porch. We all live overstressed lives. The porch is where you go out and you relax a little bit," he said.

Many people want new houses today that are designed to look old. Architect Sandra Mahoney, also of Crisp Architects, said that most of their clients come in with the desire for a new house that looks like it's been there for a long time. "Porches just make sense that way. It's an old style that they're looking for," she said.

(end of excerpt)


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