The Front Porch Swings Through History

By: Kathy Moran

The next time you’re looking through your family album – or anyone else’s – notice how many pictures were taken on somebody’s front porch. It’s a place that’s been front and center on our houses, and in our hearts, for centuries. We’ve spent many hours of our lives there, but not many people know the origins of the Great American Front Porch. Although the first versions of the porch can be traced to prehistoric times, when overhanging rocks were used for shelter, its name comes from the Latin, porticus, and the Greek, portico, which described a cathedral’s vestibule, where worshippers gathered to socialize after services. Porches first appeared in the Americas early in the 18th century, but not in large numbers. Perhaps because of the harshness of life at the time, or because porches had not been common in Europe, it would be another hundred years before they became popular. During that time, in the same way that they were shaping our nation, the diverse cultures and traditions of the colonists led to a fascinating blend of architectural styles, which evolved into the front porch, as we know it. By the Victorian era, porches were standard features on houses. Technological and industrial advances had created more leisure time, which was spent, in large part, on the front porch. Sort of an outside family room, it was a place for discussions, stories, games, and songs. The porch also fostered a sense of community, encouraging interaction with neighbors, who would often stop to visit. The new technology also led to improvements in the manufacturing of outdoor furniture, making it more affordable to the middle class. Dilapidated kitchen chairs and rockers were replaced by beautiful furniture made from wicker, wood, and metal. Among the most popular items was the porch swing. In spite of its simple, folksy appearance, it had an almost magical quality. Whether seeking quiet contentment, meaningful conversation, or light-hearted reverie, all who succumbed to its charm seemed to walk away with rosier outlooks. Famed in song and story, the porch swing has also gotten credit for sparking countless romances. In the 21st century, we are still captivated by the porch swing, which has worked its way so deeply into the fabric of our culture that it’s hard to find anyone who doesn’t own one, or have fond memories of one. In fact, porch swings are becoming more popular every year. It seems that, with the increasing pressures of today’s lifestyles, it’s more important than ever to have that one connection to a more innocent, carefree time. Of course, modern life does have its advantages, as technology has once again expanded the possibilities for outdoor furniture. Besides the classic, hand-crafted wood swings, offers gorgeous porch swings made from polywood, and a new, synthetic “wicker” that looks authentic, but, like your memories, is virtually indestructible. Furthermore, even if you don’t have a porch, you can still enjoy a swing, by getting one of their durable swing stands for your deck, patio, or yard. To start a new generation of happy memories, visit, and browse through their entire line of beautiful porch swings.

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