Why Is There A Porch Off The Bathroom? Interesting Facets Of Lakewood Homes

Like most who choose to live in Lakewood, I adore my old home with its beautiful character and unique architectural attributes. These features, which may seem unusual now, are a glimpse into the daily lives of our homes Stewards from the past century. As a Realtor, when I am showing homes in Lakewood, Buyer’s often ask me the purpose of some of these features. While I am certainly not a member of “This Old House,” I have learned a thing or two over the years. Here are a few of the most common questions.

“Why is there a porch off the bathroom?” One common element of several Lakewood homes is a second floor porch off the bathroom or back bedroom. These small spaces are “sleeping porches.” Prior to air conditioning, a home would typically include a sleeping porch to provide some comfort to the family on hot summer nights. In addition, at the time most of Lakewood homes were built, fresh air and sunlight were a common treatment and preventative measure for several diseases such as tuberculosis.

“What is the old metal appliance in the basement?” Long before most consumer items came in plastic cartons, home owners burned most of their garbage in basement incinerators. While it’s illegal to use these now, most have a great vintage look and make for a good conversation piece.

“What a great storage space!” The small door next to the side entrance was not originally put there to store the dog leash or shimmy through incase you forgot your keys. This is a milk chute. Prior to the Beatles debut and Giant Eagle, most homes had daily delivery of milk and other perishable food items. The Milk Man would place the order through the outside door and retrieve empty bottles. The homeowner would open the inside door to collect the delivery or leave notes of new items needed.

“Is that an art nook?” No, but some of these original telephone nooks are artwork themselves. These small alcoves, usually found by the main stairway are typically waist high, so that a chair could be placed nearby for comfort, when chatting on the party line with neighbors.

“Why does the garage look like a small barn?” That’s because it might have been. Prior to the 1910’s, most families did not own a car. Trolley lines were the most common form of local transportation in Lakewood. A shed or barn may have been kept in the back for small livestock or even a horse and carriage. In the 1920’s garages grew in popularity when automobiles became more affordable.

“What is this brass handle in the doorway?” “Go ahead and pull it,” is typically what I say and then wait for their astonished look. This is a pocket door. Typically in pairs and made of beautiful, solid wood with ornate hardware, Pocket Doors can be found from Lakewood’s grand Victorian homes, to the common American Foursquare design. Pocket doors were a popular architectural feature up to mid 1930’s. Their function assisted in creating larger spaces for entertaining, closing off more private sections of the home from guest, and to keep heat in certain areas of the home.

“Why is there a button in the middle of the Dining Room Floor?” It was not uncommon for many upper-middle class households to employ domestic help. The button in the middle of the dining room floor or on the perimeter is a Butler’s Button. When this button was pressed it would turn on a light in the Kitchen to summon the cook that the family was ready for the next course, or to clear the table. This more than likely was a part of what is called an Annunciator Box. This is a small box in the Kitchen or Servant Quarters, which rang bells to summon staff when buttons were pressed in various parts of the home.

There are numerous fascinating components that can be found in all of our beloved Lakewood homes that reflect lifestyles of a bygone time. What will our descendants find of us that make them scratch their heads in wonder? Lakewood homeowners are a wealth of knowledge on century home trivia. Contact me if you are stumped on a certain component in your home or have some insight to share.

Michelle Mehaffey Taylor is a Lakewood resident and licensed Real Estate Agent with Keller Williams EZ Sales Team – Michelle@EZSalesTeam.com.

Michelle Mehaffey Taylor

Michelle Mehaffey Taylor is a Lakewood resident and licensed Real Estate Agent with The EZ Sales Team at Keller Williams Realty - Michelle@EZSalesTeam.com

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Volume 11, Issue 2, Posted 1:08 PM, 01.20.2015