By Erica Eason Hall
Photography by Greg Campbell
These outdoor spaces create a retreat for family fun.
IN THE SOUTH our people are richly storied and quite adept at sharing those stories. And in the Delta, our porches are often the setting where many of our live’s tales unfold and memories are made— whether birthdays, baptisms, and wedding parties, or wakes or just sitting with a friend in need. But, most of the time it’s just everyday conversation about nothing that really matters at all happening on our porches. They give us a place, extended from the home, to slow down the pace and sit for a spell. Whether sharing conversation with a friend or just being quiet and looking out over a green lawn, porches provide good medicine for the soul.
Paige and Tripp Hayes’s home in Clarksdale was built in 2006 by Delta designer and builder, Frank Tindall. The strategic placement of the double front doors exactly opposite the back double doors tempts you straight out to the backyard. Out in the garden which is lushly planted with hydrangea bushes and Confederate jasmine, you may see Duke and Sadie, the family’s pair of German Short Hair Pointers bird watching. Their porch stretches the length of the back of the home and is designed with two distinct areas. One is a lounging area for reading or happy hour conversations which sometimes lead into dinner which takes place across the brick floored porch at the wrought iron dining set. Paige says, “When the weather allows, we love to have dinner out here!”
Less than a mile from the Hayes’ home, you can find Meri and Tim Tehnet’s home. Designed by architect Bryan Brown from Columbus, the Tehnets built their home in 2007 in a modern aesthetic with Southern style. Their screened porch is located on the front exterior of the home and overlooks the Cypress break that centers their neighborhood. Their porch echoes the unique style of the home with modern bones, but outfitted in decor that is eclectic and rich in history.
The back porch of Ann Fisher and Rabun Luster’s Clarksdale home was renovated just last year, but the home itself has a much longer history. Thirty years ago, the couple moved and joined two historic houses together to make their home. Both were family homes, one a house built in 1860 from Friars Point that was owned by Ann Fisher’s father, E. G. Larson, and the other a house built in 1920 moved from Desoto Avenue in Clarksdale, owned by Rabun’s uncle, Leon Bramlett. The Lusters have spent the last thirty years enjoying their home and sharing it with friends and family by entertaining as much as possible. Their newly vaulted and renovated kitchen and living room open right onto the porch where they love spending their time. The porch is styled with a mix of family heirlooms, local art and modern furniture.
Boo and Tommy Morlino, Greenwood and Leland natives, enjoy a busy, family-centered life in their traditional Germantown home. Their back porch has been the scene of many special occasions including their own “Delta wedding” when one of her daughters was married there last summer. There are several areas for relaxation, particularly the wicker swing and matching chairs that are positioned to take advantage of a wall-mounted outdoor television. “Sometimes I stay out here all night,” admits Boo. The Morlinos hung stylish outdoor drapes in a classic awning stripe to lend the space shade and privacy, and with fresh colorful pillows for comfort and a pop of color, they’ve created the perfect setting to enjoy long summer days with family.
In Cleveland there are a pair of homes with backyard screened porches that are more connected than usual. There is no fence separating the yards of Cordelia and Charlie Capps and Elizabeth and Frank Melton which are joined by a stepping stone path that was laid by the homes’ former owners. The Capps’ home was the home of Judge Lucy Somerville Howorth, a champion for women’s rights. And the Melton’s home was the childhood home of Mrs. Keith Dockery of the famed Dockery Plantation. Today, the Meltons and the Capps spend as much time as Delta weather permits on their porches from morning coffee to late afternoon beverages. They regularly exchange “hellos” from their porches that are fully furnished with items rich in family history and full of Southern charm. As Cordelia said of the meaningful decor, “Every piece has a story”. The two couples also share a garden in the backyard filled with flowers and vegetables from which they harvest all summer long.
It is quite evident that all of these home owner’s have a special place in their hearts for their porches and can often be found spending time with family and friends there on long Delta summer days.