Prior to the mid 19th century, porches were common only in the southern United States. With the advent of the Victorian era at the turn of the 20th century, porches grew in popularity all over the country, says the website oldhousejournal.com. The Victorians believed in the health benefits of fresh air and Victorian homes often featured more than one area to access the outdoors.
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Victorian homes, particularly of the Queen Ann style, featured porches that began in the front of the house and continued around at least one side. These large, open porches with their deep overhangs were often embellished with decorative gingerbread trim and intricate columns and rails. Wrap-around porches were more than just a place to enjoy a fresh breeze. Traditionally furnished with wicker chairs designed for comfort with large cushions covered in floral or striped designs, matching wicker tables and porch swings, wraparound porches made the perfect outdoor room in which to entertain.
Victorian verandas were large enclosed porches that sometimes wrapped around at least two sides of the house. A second-story veranda ran across the front of the house and was accessible only from the inside of the house. Since they were screened or glassed in, verandas made it possible to enjoy the outdoors in all kind of weather without the bother of insects.
Sleeping porches, located on the home's upper levels, were the next best thing to sleeping outdoors. Located off bedrooms, these large, covered, open-air alcoves provided a place to escape the heat and stale air inside the house and were particularly welcome during the hot days of summer. As the decades passed, with the advent of air-conditioning and electric fans, many sleeping porches were enclosed.
Victorian homes, especially those in the Queen Ann style, sometimes featured multilevel porches. Balconies, located off upper-level rooms, were smaller than the large porches found on the first floor. These cosy spaces offered more privacy than lower-level porches. Some balconies were not covered, others had permanent roofs and overhangs while some were protected by canvas awnings that were put up during warm weather and removed before winter in northern climates.
Victorian homes were often crowned with towers or turrets located above a wraparound porch in the house's front corner. Open turrets mirrored the curve of the porch below and were open on three sides. Like wraparound porches they were embellished with decorative mouldings, columns and trim.
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