FLORIDA ARCHITECTURE WAS AHEAD OF THE GAME
Before air conditioning, many features were incorporated into now historic homes to deal with decreasing the heat within the home during summer and other hot months that today are considered “green”.
Deep covered porches and wide eaves sheltered main buildings from the harsh sun, reduced heat gain and protected interior furnishings from fading while giving a sheltered space to sit out of the sun and enjoy cooling breezes when they could be found. Window awnings helped keep interior rooms cool by protection from direct sunlight. Between 1870 and 1930, fabric awnings made of canvas were attached to a fixed of retractable metal frame, available in colors and patterns for the homeowners to choose. In the 1940’s metal awnings and Bahama shutters were common.
Operable windows were usually covered with full-height screens to keep out mosquitos. All exterior doors had screen doors, allowing breezes in and keeping bugs out. Many that were not sheltered by a porch had covered overhangs.
On upper floors, there were “sleeping porches” with either rows of casement windows or screened openings to capture as much air movement as possible, and cots were set out for hot night relief.
Will homebuilders of today consider adding awnings, Bahama shutters and porches in front and back? With the new mantra, “CHEAP IS THE NEW BLACK,” we realize that our earlier residents would have found these methods good ways to reduce today’s air conditioning bills.