The American Porch: An Informal History of an Informal Place

Shawn and Blinda interview the delightful Michael Dolan, author of The American Porch: An Informal History of an Informal Place.

In this charming look at an American icon, journalist and documentary scriptwriter and producer Dolan traces the history of the porch, using this history to explore subjects such as architecture, history, slavery, colonialism, trade, anthropology, sociology, consumer behavior, and publishing. He begins with an account of remodeling his own front porch and then takes us on an irreverent yet informative tour of the development of the porch, from its origins in ancient Greece and Rome, Africa and India, with stops along the way in Brazil, the Caribbean, Renaissance Italy, Georgian England, and Colonial America. From there, he charts the rise, decline, fall, and reemergence of the porch in America, from Greek revival architecture to plantation culture, from Victorian bungalows to suburban ranch homes, from front porch conversation to air conditioning and television, and from Modernism to the New Urbanism. Throughout, the author supplements his own research by calling upon an impressive array of authorities. Considering the book’s accessibility, the amount and quality of its coverage, and the current lack of comparable titles, this is highly recommended for both academic and public libraries