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Preservation of porches in Fairport is both historical and social

Caitlin Whyte

Nothing says spring like hanging out on a front porch, and some residents in Fairport will be getting some help upgrading theirs from the village and the Landmark Society.

Every house on Deland Park B on the Northside of Fairport has a porch. Some are closed in, some are open. Some are more decorated than others. 

I meet Caitlin Meivis here on a sky blue day. She is the Preservation Planner at the Landmark Society. The organization recently named “The Front Porch” as a priority on their annual “Five to Revive” list.

“A porch is kind of an in-between space between the public realm of the street and the sidewalk and sort of the private realm of your own house.”

Meivis said when the Fairport Office of Community and Economic Development heard about the list, they took the idea and ran, and reached out to the Landmark Society for help.

With $20,000 going toward the initial pilot program, starting here in the Deland neighborhood, Meivis said it will help homeowners replace railings, vertical posts and flooring; all things that take a beating from Western New York weather.

Credit Caitlin Whyte / WXXI News

Not only do they want to help neighborhoods flourish and tend to these gathering spaces, but they also want to preserve the historical detail of the homes in this area, built in the early 20th century.

“Maybe you have your morning coffee or an after work drink or dinner or you’re just relaxing out on the porch in the evening. And you can interact with your neighbors as they go by. Even if it’s just a wave or just keeping an eye on the kids in the street, it’s a way to really build community in a neighborhood.”

Residents whose applications are accepted will have access to information, names of expert craftspeople and other resources to help them plan.

Applicants could get matching grants up to $2,000 towards renovations. 

I was about to pack up and head back to the station when Paul Kurzdorfer walked by, and asked me why there was a WXXI car parked on his block. I told him about the new project and he said his neighbor would probably be interested in it, so he brought me to her house.

Diane Chichelli has the most inviting porch I’ve seen in a while. White curtains and wind chimes, wicker furniture and cushioned chairs. A light breeze blew through as we all sat down.

“Last night we had a cocktail, we were waiting for our other neighbor, we sat on the front steps this morning and talked to the neighbor across the street there.”

Credit Caitlin Whyte / WXXI News

Paul’s porch is right next door.

“I like to sit out there, play my guitar, eat breakfast or lunch and talk with people.”

They’ve even turned the porches on this block into somewhat of a club.

“We started a front porch politics group here in June. There were seven people and we were meeting every Monday. And we still meet, now we do round robin, but we started right here, front porch politics.”

Sitting on this porch, with two people I had never met before, it was the perfect example of how a front porch can build a community. It's a place to be open and welcoming, meet new people, and feel at home.