Uncommon in England, where the weather is reliably cool, porches didn’t become an American tradition until the very end of the 18th century. The first ones were no more than a slight extension of the frontispiece from the doorway, with a small roof, offering just the smallest shelter as a transition between the outdoors and the inside of the home. Volume VII, Issue V of the historic White Pine Architectural Monographs examines early American doorways and the evolution of the porch, with examples from New England.
While the porches that would later become popular in the South are more functional, these early American porches are highly ornamental, often inspired by Greco-Roman design. There were more than a few challenges as builders began to experiment with tacking porches onto conventional colonial homes, which often had upper-story windows placed directly above the entrance.
“The various types of porches common in early American work have been illustrated by the examples in this number. Many have been left undated, sometimes because we know the porch to have been a later addition, and sometimes because we suspect it was; however, I think it can safely be said that every example falls within the half-century from 1780 to 1830, a sufficient proof that the porch is a late feature of American work. Yet within this half-century we are presented with a remarkable number of types to use as precedents.”
Read more at the White Pine Monograph Library.