Back on the East Side of Main Street this month in the beautiful neighborhood of Historic Springfield in Jacksonville, Florida, we and this month’s featured front porch. Patti Peeples and Dana Minyard decided to make Springfield home only a few months ago and in that time they have really created a masterpiece.
What is your favorite thing about having a front porch?
A front porch is like an extended hand to your community, offering hospitality and asking for conversation. I think all communities are made better by front porches and sidewalks (and shade trees 😊).
Was there a special inspiration in the decorating of your porch?
When decorating our front porch, we tried to capture a feeling, rather than a “decorating style” per se. I envisioned our porch to be like a best friend: nurturing, openhearted, accepting of where you are in your day. And, we had to add a bit of whimsy. That last part – the whimsy – is very important!
My brother, a landscape designer, suggested a swinging day bed, and it was around this from which everything else flowed. The circular area rug brings everyone together in an intimate conversation area, and the centuries old German Bread Bowl adds a bit of curiosity and individuality, while also grounding us in this “outdoor room”. The bread bowl is balanced on the other end with a pounded tin medallion. The hanging plants offer color and a transition into the front yard and our CROW, where we’ve added a Little Free Library (a unique handmade design that we’ve named the Twig House), a bench to peruse the books, and painted footstones. We hope that this encourages passers-by to pause a moment and wonder, hmmm, who lives here? (Then we can invite them to come visit on the porch!)
As a bit of history, Dana and I grew up in Mississippi, where porches are a standard part of one’s life. My mother spent almost every waking moment on our front porch, talking on the phone, visiting friends, slicing vegetables for dinner with a paring knife and a bowl. If I needed to find “mama”, she was on the porch. My grandmother had a very famous antebellum home in the style of Steamboat Gothic. It had a circular porch around both stories. I’ve included a picture of this home in Starkville, Mississippi. I spent much of my childhood skating around that front porch or sitting on the back porch with my Grandmother Peeples (we called her PooPoo, long story….) while she brushed her long white hair and I shelled butterbeans. The aroma of the Granny Smith apple and Magnolia tree filled the air, planted near the porch, was enmeshed with PooPoo’s lavendar body powder and perspiration. I think these smells and memories got into my DNA!
So having a porch in our Springfield home is indeed like “coming home”.
How long have you lived in Springfield?
We are so happy to say that we ‘moved home’ in January of this year, 2019. We are newcomers but all of you in Springfield have made us feel like old friends.
What is the best part of living in Springfield?
Gosh, how do we pick one thing? We’ve actually thought a lot about this. Dana would say the welcoming neighborhood and ability to bicycle literally everywhere. We don’t use our cars much. But I would say the very best part of living in Springfield is that I feel content. In my life, I have not often been content, not because I have been in need, but it’s sort of just who I am…always moving, seeking, exploring. But there is something about this neighborhood, the people, and this home that has settled my soul a little. I’m very grateful for this, and want to keep exploring the why behind it.
What advice would you give to folks thinking about moving to Springfield?
I’ll answer this with a quote from Isaac Asimov: “Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in a while, or the light won’t come in.”
If you are considering moving here, please accept the beauty and the challenges, embrace all of its people, and strive to make it a better home for all of us.