Most houses that I saw when I was growing up are what I consider “typical” or “normal.” Normally, they were built with four rooms. A front room, a kitchen, and two bedrooms on the side, but then, again, there was this one house (down in the woods) that I didn’t think was typical, nor normal. And it would be another 50 years or so before I found out that it’s really not a normal house. It’s called a “Dog-Trot” house.
Because I lived in and loved the country, I eventually got around to seeing just about everything in my “neck of the woods,” and being the curious little girl that I was, I didn’t miss much. Actually, I think I saw everybody’s house in the country. So when we moved into a house on the Patmos Highway, we started scouting out our new country. Our excursions eventually took us down in the lane to our new neighbor’s house and, on the way there, that’s when I saw this big, funny-looking house. I say “funny looking,” because I had never seen a house like it before. Anyway, I stood there in the road gazing at it as though it were a castle in the sky.
At that time, I couldn’t figure out why anyone would build a house with a wide, open hall “smack dab” in the center of it, but the space is simply an open end, covered porch and is used in the same way as a traditional porch, and I’m sure our neighbor found many practical uses for her wide, open space.
So whenever we went down the lane to visit our friends who lived about a mile behind us, we had to pass by this neighbor’s house. She was an elderly, somewhat eccentric recluse and not someone we had any reason or excuse to visit, but still I could hardly wait to go to her house. It just so happened that this lady was my grandmother’s friend, and I figured that, because she was, I would eventually get a chance to explore her one-of-a-kind house. Then, after what seemed like an eternity, one day my grandmother came to visit us … and surprise, she asked us girls to accompany her to her friend’s oddly built house.
We went there in the summer when windows and doors are wide open. The house set a little ways off the ground so when we got there and walked up the steps, we stepped into a open, covered hallway about 10 feet wide with rooms on either side of the opening. I glanced into each room as we made our way to the backyard where we mingled with our hostess among her fruit trees. While I enjoyed her delicious, butter-rich sweet bread, I was more anxious to make another trip back through her open porch-hall to peep into her rooms from another angle. When we were leaving, we did go back through the hall, and I had a chance to glance into her old-fashioned kitchen and luckily I even saw a pretty antique picture on her bedroom wall. I didn’t see much else because of the short walk, but it was a magical feeling indeed to walk through a house with a porch right in the middle of it, and a house that is just perfect for a dog to trot right through it
This open-end, covered hallway provides a cool, shady place to sit on hot summer days. Such a wide opening is like a natural air conditioner, letting refreshing breezes blow through and cooling down the house, especially on the side where the sun doesn’t set. At any rate, my thanks to Mr. Architect who built Miss Munn’s porch in the middle of her house. It was one of my favorite places to visit, especially on a long, hot summer day.