Orlando Magazine, June 1996
written by Denise Salvaggio
Photos by Bob Braun
Front porches bring homeowners out of the house and face-to face with summer's beauty
Here's a look at three downtown front porches that have heightened the quality of architecture and life in each neighborhood. While each porch is different, each also shares essential elements. And each is a link to Orlando's past - that's blending nicely into Orlando's future.
At left: The front porch of Steven and Gretchen Lotz's home (architect: Tom Price) is fashioned after the historic Newell house. Today the artists' home still offers an outstanding view of Lake Cherokee, which was known as Lake Minnie during the Newell's days. The Lotzes enjoy sipping refreshments and relaxing on their scenic front porch - just as George and Susan Gibson Newell must have done at their Honeymoon Row home.
In downtown Orlando during summertime, it's true - the livin' is easy. As proof, Orlando residents retreat to their front porches to enjoy the splendor of their neighborhoods - and to take advantage of summer's longer days.
Before Disney descended upon Orlando, downtown residents led slower-paced lives. Early evenings were spent on front porches - taking in the sweet scent of jasmine while rocking in Grandpa's handmade rocker and watching the children scoop up chirping crickets. Prior to the advent of air conditioning, the front porch was a breezy neighborhood meeting place. Evening strollers were often invited to sit for a spell and cool off with a glass of iced tea topped off with a fresh mint sprig from Mom's garden.
Then people started working more. As they spent extra hours at the office and less time at home, the porch was rendered obsolete. People started watching television in air-conditioned comfort and socializing on the telephone. Many downtown front porches were converted into glass-enclosed sunrooms or screened-in porches.
Thankfully, an influx of young buyers arrived. As these architecturally savvy individuals started revitalizing Orlando's old neighborhoods in the early 1980s, the front porch again became an integral element of the home. Even the new homes built in these soon-to-be-historic districts were designed to complement the existing architecture.
But the reason for downtown Orlando's front porch resurgence extends beyond aesthetics. People were yearning to re-connect with their surrounding environs and establish a sense of community. They wanted to decompress from high-pressure workdays while staying attuned to the quickening tempo of city life.
Turning off the television to enjoy an evening breeze is an idea whose time has come again. But now the period spent delighting in the simple pleasures of the front porch is likely to be followed by a jaunt to a nearby eatery or brisk walk around one of downtown's lakes.
Take a tour of the Lotz home
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