Front Porch bungalows lined the midtown streets of Palm Beach around the turn-of-the-century. Some still exit in Craftsman, Prairie and Arts & Crafts style. Wood and stone are emphasized, natural materials used, accommodating living quarters to get balmy ocean breezes before the days of air conditioning. Front porches were featured with vine-covered pergolas adding a rustic ambiance. Dade County pine floors prevailed along with wood beamed and pecky cypress ceilings, stone fireplaces, built-in cabinets, cupboards, bookcases and seating.
Sears produced a mail-order version between 1908 and 1921 and shipped completely packaged house kits, assembled and customized for location and client by local craftsmen. A national Craftsman Movement was sparked by Gustav Stickley, a furniture maker, who started publishing Craftsman magazine in 1901. There were more than 200 house plans, an artful blend of form, function and convenience.
The bungalow style helped break away from the late 19th C. focus on gingerbread trim and complex formal interiors, but popularity waned by the end of World War I, supplanted by Mediterranean, Bermuda and Caribbean styled villas with stucco enclosed courtyards and ficus hedged borders. In time, storms took their toll as pergolas and picket fences vanished and were not replaced. Wood frame houses became covered with synthetic sidings and stucco, and gone forever from Palm Beach was the importance of front porch life.