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The 1980s trend of removing porch roofs

christiesplits

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I've noticed a number of early 20th century semis, particularly in the east end, that have their front porch roofs and/or second floor balconies removed. I did some digging and dated this trend as starting in the 1980s.

Was this a uniquely Toronto phenomenon? Was it consistent with broader trends in home design and architecture? Here are some examples from Riverdale and the Danforth:


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Source: HouseSigma
 

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I've noticed a number of early 20th century semis, particularly in the east end, that have their front porch roofs and/or second floor balconies removed. I did some digging and dated this trend as starting in the 1980s.

Was this a uniquely Toronto phenomenon? Was it consistent with broader trends in home design and architecture? Here are some examples from Riverdale and the Danforth:


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Source: HouseSigma
I suspect they were removed because they had reached a point where they needed significant repair and it was easier and cheaper to remove them completely. Much as we see many buildings from early 20th century with much simplified roof lines and the removal of complex metalwork.
 
Some porches with the overhang were turned into sun room or mud rooms, or the wall was taken out and the porch became part of the living room. Doesn't look great from the outside, but you do get more square footage.

I love my porch. I will never get rid of it. My backyard space isn't great, it's next to a couple bus stops and a busy road. So it's always noisy and it gets full sun all day. My porch is nice and shady and quiet in the summer. I love sitting out.
 
I'd even date the phenomenon pre-80s--basically, a sidebar to the Cabbagetowny 60s/70s school of whitepaint/sandblast gentrification. (And at a time when Victorian Toronto was being rediscovered, Edwardian-style front porches were still regarded by some gentrifying/renovating tastemakers as heavy and gloomy and dispensible, while straight up-and-down brick facades sans porches had a stylishness akin to newer townhouses or Alexandra Park-type projects. Indeed, if anything, the tide turned *toward* Edwardian porch retention in the 80s.)
 
I'd even date the phenomenon pre-80s--basically, a sidebar to the Cabbagetowny 60s/70s school of whitepaint/sandblast gentrification. (And at a time when Victorian Toronto was being rediscovered, Edwardian-style front porches were still regarded by some gentrifying/renovating tastemakers as heavy and gloomy and dispensible, while straight up-and-down brick facades sans porches had a stylishness akin to newer townhouses or Alexandra Park-type projects. Indeed, if anything, the tide turned *toward* Edwardian porch retention in the 80s.)
Thanks Adma for the backgrounder. My intel was from my parents who lived in a duplex in Riverdale in the early 80s and said they recall a number of bin rentals on their street with contractors tearing out the overhangs. It's interesting to know this was happening earlier in other neighbourhoods.
 
It would be interesting to know the reason for the trend; if it was a structural or aesthetic. I certainly can see aging issues with roof, columns and foundations which typically aren't as robust by today's standards. Once they start to fail the cost may be considered prohibitive for 'just a porch'.

I love front porches and I think they help connect people to their neighbourhood. Our old farmhouse had porches on three sides - two covered, and our current 1990s house has a covered front porch. We sit outside most every evening in the summer after supper, observing and waving to neighbours going by. I also love to sit outside during a summer storm (not too windy mind you).
 
Thanks Adma for the backgrounder. My intel was from my parents who lived in a duplex in Riverdale in the early 80s and said they recall a number of bin rentals on their street with contractors tearing out the overhangs. It's interesting to know this was happening earlier in other neighbourhoods.
One could still look at early 80s as "long 70s", in a sense--much as the early gentrification of Riverdale was a cross-Don carryover of what had earlier taken place in Cabbagetown. (And in the case of a later-developed neighbourhood like Riverdale, the stripping of Edwardian porches might have been an ironic attempt to make actual Edwardians look more "Victorian-like", as "Victorian" was still a universal emblem of "gentrifiability" and Edwardians were looked upon as an overfamiliar dime a dozen.)

It's like, they sought Edwardian/Victorian charm without the Edwardian/Victorian gloom that porches represented. These days, the "de-gloomification" might be in the form of open-plan gut-rebuilds instead. (Or the more judicious might opt for selective greenery-trimming instead in case "shade" is fatally an issue.)
 
It would be interesting to know the reason for the trend; if it was a structural or aesthetic. I certainly can see aging issues with roof, columns and foundations which typically aren't as robust by today's standards. Once they start to fail the cost may be considered prohibitive for 'just a porch'.
Which is why they were the most frequently "altered" portion of a house--remember how porch-stripping's opposite number in those years was the replacement the original piers by wrought-iron or "Mediterranean" brick-arched elements. Which also served as a readymade emblem of the ethno- or class status of those doing the alteration, or the neighbourhoods where said alterations were predominant. (And it's a fair bet that a lot of the time--particularly once the pool of "gentrifiability" extended beyond "white Anglo" neighbourhoods in the 1980s--the porches being stripped weren't all necessarily Edwardian originals; and from a genteel-white-Anglo-bourgeois standpoint, better no porch at all than one of those hideous wrought-iron "ethnic" affairs.)
 
Which is why they were the most frequently "altered" portion of a house--remember how porch-stripping's opposite number in those years was the replacement the original piers by wrought-iron or "Mediterranean" brick-arched elements. Which also served as a readymade emblem of the ethno- or class status of those doing the alteration, or the neighbourhoods where said alterations were predominant. (And it's a fair bet that a lot of the time--particularly once the pool of "gentrifiability" extended beyond "white Anglo" neighbourhoods in the 1980s--the porches being stripped weren't all necessarily Edwardian originals; and from a genteel-white-Anglo-bourgeois standpoint, better no porch at all than one of those hideous wrought-iron "ethnic" affairs.)
I have no clue what you just said, but . . . sure.
 
I have no clue what you just said, but . . . sure.
If you have no clue; well, let's look at it in terms of 70s/80s white-Anglo-bourgeois real estate values. Wrought-iron balconies and porch columns were up there with fake stone facing as crass emblems of blue-collar ethno-trash with taste up their keister. Yet that wrought iron was there because (a) the porch was, as mentioned, the most "vulnerable" part of the house, and (b) as an expression of the owner's personality and taste values, it was the most "visible" part of the house, a sort of tribal expression. It was its era's version of Ford Nation aesthetics. So the white-Anglo-bourgeois thing to do upon buying such a dwelling would be to either replace such a porch with something more "correctly" Victorian/Edwardian or more "tasteful", or just rip it off altogether because porches are superfluous, anyway. (By the 90s, though, there was more of a trend to pragmatically retain such porches and related ethno-blue-collar-remodellings as a matter-of-fact "preexisting condition" and a valid part of the historical imprint.)
 
If you have no clue; well, let's look at it in terms of 70s/80s white-Anglo-bourgeois real estate values. Wrought-iron balconies and porch columns were up there with fake stone facing as crass emblems of blue-collar ethno-trash with taste up their keister. Yet that wrought iron was there because (a) the porch was, as mentioned, the most "vulnerable" part of the house, and (b) as an expression of the owner's personality and taste values, it was the most "visible" part of the house, a sort of tribal expression. It was its era's version of Ford Nation aesthetics. So the white-Anglo-bourgeois thing to do upon buying such a dwelling would be to either replace such a porch with something more "correctly" Victorian/Edwardian or more "tasteful", or just rip it off altogether because porches are superfluous, anyway. (By the 90s, though, there was more of a trend to pragmatically retain such porches and related ethno-blue-collar-remodellings as a matter-of-fact "preexisting condition" and a valid part of the historical imprint.)
You sound like a foot soldier in the undeclared ethno/cultural/economic/social class war. Sorry, I'm a conscientious objector.
 
You sound like a foot soldier in the undeclared ethno/cultural/economic/social class war. Sorry, I'm a conscientious objector.
And notice the historical/cultural context I offered: "let's look at it in terms of 70s/80s white-Anglo-bourgeois real estate values". (And the post-1990 "pragmatic retention" pattern just as well reflects how we've moved on from those commonplace attitudes.)

Not all reporting on past attitudes is on behalf of being a present-day MAGA-esque foot soldier for said past attitudes--sometimes it's just a matter of reporting "why things were", and contextualizing phenomena such as those being discussed within this thread. (And maybe of understanding by extension "why things are", as per the Ford Nation equivalency I offered.)
 

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