Who doesn’t love a front porch? A cheerful place to relax on the swing with a refreshing cold drink. Wave to the neighbors taking an evening stroll, greet the mailman, watch a child shakily ride down the sidewalk on a new bike. Who doesn’t love a porch?
Me, many days. I have 19 of them here at the village to maintain, and doing so leaves me little time for swinging or sipping or waving. A porch is basically a room with no exterior walls. What would happen if we took the exterior wall off of one of your rooms? Before you proclaim the joys of fresh air and sunshine, consider rain, snow, sleet and hail, birds and bees and rotten fruit bouncing off of trees. See the floor buckle and pop, the wood rot and collapse. Look, a visitor approaches, to put a foot through that weak spot and break a bone. Not so cheerful anymore.
The museum needs to keep those 19 porches in good repair for visitor safety, and so that they can experience the joys of porches without the heartache. Blum House is February’s “featured building” in our year-long celebration of our 50th anniversary, you have probably seen it pop up in Facebook posts. Its porch is also our featured February repair project. Workers have pulled out all of the old flooring and fixed the underlying structure. We found two old Dr. Pepper bottles under there. Usually, we find vintage beer cans, which may explain some of our porch issues.
To combat the irresistible force of wood+rain=rot, we put four coats of paint on every new porch board. Any that still manage to rot through in the coming year will be severely reprimanded. The decorative spindles around the porch also need work, particularly the ones in front of the porch swing we had to remove. It seems children like to swing high, and they like to kick decorative turned wood house parts-you get the picture.
If you wonder why we don’t fix everything at the museum this well I will share with you the cost of this project. $18,000. Can’t do that 19 times in one year, especially when I also have water pipes leaking, roofs aging, lights flickering and wallpaper pealing.
All whining aside, it is great to get one project like this done. When it is finally finished, which will occur later than any of us expected because that always happens, it will be a pleasure to cross it off my list. It will look so good it may remind me of this historic image of the George family enjoying the porch in its youth. Why, I might even rock a bit (no swinging any more), and sip a Dr. Pepper, and wave to somebody. Probably the guy walking away with my $18,000 check.