Is there anything that epitomizes summer relaxation more than having the whole family gathered out on the porch? The front porch, the back porch--whatever. Preferably you should have a cool drink in your hand and a cool breeze drifting by.
But by the 1830s, porches and piazzas were showing up on the most up-to-date houses, and Edward Philip Livingston added these details to his wife's historic family home--first the porch, then the piazzas. In the summers this space hosted three or four wooden rocking chairs and was apparently ornamented with long flower boxes, as seen here.
I've always been fascinated with this space--perhaps it goes along with my fascination for anything that's gone. It permitted a mix of shade and sun, as a wide wing extended out from under the porch roof and off to the sunny south side of the house, where another roofed-over section shaded the windows in library and drawing room.
I also just recently found this photo of Alice in 1908, posing with John Henry's dog Punchy on the veranda. There are too many things to love about this image.
Honoring Chancellor Livingston by attempting to recreate the house as he had known it (sort of--that chateauesque roof and the north and south wings were added later) may have been the most lofty of his goals, but the remaining section of porch in the southwest corner provides another possible reason.
This deeply-shaded portion of the mansion is also at an inside corner, getting rain poured down from several roofs each storm and never quite getting enough sun to dry it out all the way. If the rest of the porch was a shady, especially with all those trees around it, it probably suffered the same rot problems that we deal with each year. Perhaps John Henry simply tired of maintenance drain it created.
Whatever the reason, John Henry tore down his own creation and left us Clermont as we know it now, and I love it just the way it is.