Ever Heard Of A Rain Porch?

Probably not, but here's what you need to know about the best outdoor living idea ever.

In the South we make the claim that porch season extends to three seasons a year. With the additions of the almighty ceiling fan, screening, and fireplace, it is entirely possible to enjoy 270 nights and days on the porch except for rainy days and stormy nights, which are only becoming more and more frequent.

It's delightful to listen to the rain on your porch, but it's zero fun to get wet. And no matter the factory warranty promise, most outdoor furniture and rugs can't stand up to hot soggy weather for long. Luckily, a visit to an authentic 1908 Mobile Bay House solved the problem: The rain porch.

Fairhope Rain Porch Pulled Back
Hector Manuel Sanchez

What Is A Rain Porch?

At first glance, this house located on the Eastern Shore of the Mobile Bay (an area especially prone to hurricanes and storms) looks like a typical house with double wraparound porches. Actually, the homeowner, Ginny Stimpson explained that her home has "rain porches," an awning-like extension of the roof itself that dips down at an angle to shield the house from wind and rain.

Fairhope Bay House with Two Story Rain Porch
Hector Manuel Sanchez

Don't mistake it for an exaggerated eave; rain porch roofs extend beyond the porch floor (3 and 6 feet from the end of the roofline) and at a lower angle providing more coverage.

Fairhope Rain Porch Roof Line
Hector Manuel Sanchez

They also feature a slatted (or planked) ceiling for ventilation, creating breathing room for the rain porch ceiling room to expand and contract with the moisture and humidity. "It's amazing to sit out here in the rain. You can see an actual line where the water stops short of the porch," says homeowner Ginny Stimpson.

Where Did Rain Porches Originate?

Rain porches were built on homes in the 1800s in many Southeastern states. Some speculate that this style of porch, sometimes called a Carolina porch, first originated in South Carolina. While the exact origin of rain porches is unclear, most sources agree that they originated in Alabama either in the Black belt or along the bay. According to John Sledge, Mobile's architectural historian, this is one of only about a dozen houses located in the Mobile Bay area that still have intact rain porches. It's time to bring them back.

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