The Best of Ed Shannon

Published 10:00 am Saturday, October 6, 2012

Graphic by Kathy Johnson/Albert Lea Tribune

Albert Lea’s overlooked porches


Editor’s note: This is the first in an eight-part series featuring some of former Tribune writer Ed Shannon’s best work. This article originally published July 12, 2009.

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By Ed Shannon

Some of the interesting legacies of the past, which are still a part of several local homes, are porches.

These architectural features can be described as structures attached to buildings or homes. They are usually external attachments with separate roofs and may be enclosed with screens. (This is a logical feature, especially during the warmer parts of the year when mosquitoes and other flying pests are active.) The porches serve as entries and can extend across part of or all of the front and even extend around to the sides of structures.

In more recent times, porches have been fully enclosed to become added rooms for homes, eliminated or been replaced with open decks.

In earlier eras, porches served as places where families could sit outside on warm evenings. There they could relax, gossip, snooze, read the Tribune or a book, socialize and watch their neighbors.

For the residents in one Albert Lea neighborhood, porches can still serve as places to observe the passing traffic on busy streets, pedestrians walking by, and even other folks doing jogging exercises. For several local residents, their porches have an added bonus to become places to sit and watch boaters and water skiers on Fountain Lake.

Incidentally, the world’s largest and longest front porch is at the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, Mich., This particular porch, which has been featured in several films, is 660 feet in length.