In celebration of the beginning of Fall and the festivities surrounding Halloween, October’s featured porch is an iconic one in Springfield, known for its whimsical and creative style. Homeowner, Drew Hunter, works for Sally Corporation as the VP of Creative Design which makes perfect sense when you see the masterpiece he has created with his home. Congratulations to Drew!!!! Check out his story below.
Special thanks to Renee Parenteau for being our official Porch of the Month photographer!
What is your favorite thing about having a front porch?
A front porch isn’t only a way to gain access to one’s front door. It is an extension of one’s home living space. It is actually another room – though the square footage doesn’t count on house specifications — and it isn’t temperature controlled — and it doesn’t have four walls. A big, covered, sittable front porch is quite a magical place, really. Relaxing on one’s front porch enables a person to watch the world go by, to greet friends and neighbors, to meet new people – and their dogs! – as they pass by. A front porch is a relaxing place to simply sit with friends and share stories and discuss Life. It is also a perfect place to enjoy all alone, late at night, and quietly contemplate the Cosmos.
When I searched for a house in Springfield (and that search was many years in the making!), I had two absolute requirements: A beautiful staircase in the foyer and an expansive, welcoming front porch. I spent many years as a child and as an adult sitting on my grandparent’s front porch of their 1906 house in Shreveport, Louisiana. It’s where my parents courted in the early 1940s. Decades later that same porch is where I courted my partner after we first met. My grandparents hosted many parties which always spread out onto the front porch, and much later when I lived in the house, I too had parties which wound up on the front porch until the wee hours of the morning. I learned the art of storytelling from my grandparents on their front porch, and later it is where I sat with so many friends and exchanged tales of our various life exploits, disappointments and triumphs.
At last my lengthy search in Springfield brought me to buying my current house which has that beautiful staircase and the expansive, welcoming front porch I sought. I have dubbed the house The Drewseum, and it has become a happy gathering place for the most unique and interesting people, objects and ideas. The legacy of my grandparents’ front porch is deeply imbedded in my psyche, and so having a grand front porch once again is truly a dream come true.
Was there a special inspiration in the decorating of your porch?
Halloween is just days after my birthday. (And YES, of all people, I wanted – I needed – to have a birthday on Halloween. Ironically, it just didn’t work out that way. But – well, that’s another story…) So — I have placed the required real pumpkins here and there, and festooned orange lights across on the house, and added some artificial fall foliage. But, being an artist, I also always enjoy designing and creating my own original décor items. I drew the designs for the three figures situated at ground level in front of the porch as well as the large wreath on the wall above the seating area. I had those cut out, then I painted and decorated them. Instead of a wreath on the front door, I put an autumnal vine randomly winding up the screen. And shining on the house and in the upper windows after dark are a few lighting effects. As a bit of lagniappe (Louisiana-speak for “something a little extra”), I have a couple of ghoulish silhouettes visible at night in a rear second story window. So my inspiration is creativity and sharing the joy and flavor of the Halloween season.
How long have you lived in Springfield?
I bought my current house on 2 March 2016 and moved in that same day.
But it was not the first time I resided in Springfield. In April 2000 my partner Charles Edison Chapman and our friend Newell Hadley – plus our fabulous cat Gilgamesh – moved from San Pablo Boulevard to North Laura Street where we leased a newly restored house. Since I worked downtown, it represented a welcome change from the long, often frustrating commute I was used to driving every weekday morning and afternoon. Plus the house reminded me of my grandparents’ home – and it had a nice big front porch.
We spent a delightful 2 ½ years there, but finally the owner decided he wanted to sell it. As much as we liked it, we did not want to invest permanently in it. So after a long search, I did a mammoth style reversal and bought a classic mid-century modern “atomic age” round house in Arlington. During my 13 ½ years there, a lot of life happened, and I eventually found myself living alone. I decided I wanted to return to Springfield and embarked on the multi-year search which resulted in my buying the Drewseum.
What is the best part of living in Springfield?
I guarantee the first two answers anyone will write in answering this question are:
- The people
- The community spirit.
And that will be closely followed (in no particular order) by: The history. The vintage homes. The newer homes in the vintage style. Frequent parties with friends. The tree lined streets, many draped with Spanish moss. Klutho Park. The Spring and Holiday home tours. The First Friday parties each month. The Second Sundays in the park. The Porch Fest. The annual Halloween Ball. The exhibits at the Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum. The Pop-Up parties which pop-up all the time. The Springfield Skillet. The 4th of July Westside vs Eastside throwback baseball game and associated festivities. The Little Libraries. The outrageous Cards Against Humanity parties. The Disc Golf course. The breweries, eateries and other businesses on Main Street. The convenience to major highways and to events downtown. And by the way – did I mention – the parties?!
What advice would you give to folks thinking about moving to Springfield?
I always tell folks who are not familiar with Historic Springfield that it is THE most unique, interesting and diverse neighborhood in all of Jax!. I think that anyone who lives here will agree. Other neighborhoods are decidedly more polished, have more expensive homes and have many residents who (sometimes a tad smuggly) bask in their own special social strata. But Springfield is refreshingly anti-attitude. We accept everybody on their own terms. Sure, not everybody agrees with one another in Springfield. There will always be spirited discussions about politics or local issues. And yes, there are lots of rough edges remaining in Springfield. We have many challenges and problems and situations still to be addressed and remedied. Yet since 2000 when I first moved into the area I have seen huge changes, and all for the better. And these positive changes continue today.
And one last thing: Let anybody say anything negative about Springfield, and the residents will react as one solid protective force. No matter what our superficial differences may be, we have one wonderfully significant thing in common. We love our beautifully weird neighborhood and all of the weird and beautiful people in it. We enjoy a reassuring sense of community which is difficult to put any price on. If you like what all of this sounds like, then Historic Springfield may be the place for you.
I know it is for me!