The front porch—a classic feature of American homes—is making a comeback but with a twist.
Younger crowds are literally turning porches into stages. “Porchfest” is growing in popularity across the country, in which neighborhood music festivals pop up that are enjoyed from homeowners’ front porches.
The Atlantic Monthly’s CityLab reports: “In the Instagram age, the front steps have become places to see and be seen, throw a rocking concert or party, and to foster metropolitan community in a walk-by, stop-in-for-wine sense.”
Read more: Welcome Back the Front Porch
Shelley Glica in Niagara Falls, Ontario, told CityLab how she organized a Porchfest in her community and how in warmer months she’ll also host a “Stories From the Porch” series of speakers on art, history, and culture. Glica and others represent a generational rethinking of the front porch, CityLab reports.
Porches are growing in demand across the country. Twenty-three percent more new homes are being constructed with a front porch than two decades ago. The number of new homes built with porches was at 65 percent last year, according to the National Association of Home Builders. In the Southeast, that figure jumps to 86 percent. An NAHB survey from 2016 also shows that millennials—more than any other age group—say they want a porch.
The front porch was once a celebrated signature of Federal architecture. In the 1800s, past presidents had launched successful front-porch political campaigns. For homeowners, front porches were a place to do chores, such as shuck beans, or to get fresh air on hot days before air conditioners. But once air conditioning was invented, Americans showed less need for cooling porches in the middle of the 20th century. The invention of televisions also pushed homeowners inside more.
Nowadays, younger generations are finding the porch can be an enjoyable hangout spot. Scott Doyon, who organized a Porchfest in the Atlanta area, says the front porch is now being used as a place to host friends over for hors d’oeuvres or even sharing a concert on Instagram or other social media.
“I try to find ways to plug those old ways of living into the modern world,” Doyon says. “I still believe in the value of porches as a conduit to community-building—it just unfolds in a different way now.”