May 19, 2010: When I told my co-workers in Illinois that I was house hunting in West Virginia they asked what I was looking for in a house. My answer was it MUST have a big front porch. If it has a porch, the house will tell me when I find it. The house did just that! We walked up on the porch, opened the door and walked in. The house told me, “Stop looking. I am yours!”
Although the house I grew up in did not have a front porch, to me a porch was a place to sit and relax reading a book or chatting with the neighbors or just enjoying being alive. I knew I needed a front porch, especially since I knew I was going to make this house into a bed & breakfast.
The front porch has become the “common area” of the Gillum House Bed & Breakfast. It is a place where guests love to sit chatting and enjoying the peace and quiet of Shinnston. There have been many times our guests met each other on the porch and chatted sipping iced tea or the beverage of choice into the night. One lady who comes as often as she can wants to have her breakfast on the porch as she reads and relaxes in the tranquility of West Virginia.
We have even served candlelight dinners for two on this porch. The first couple who dined there talked for hours (the candles burned to nothing!) as they got to know each other – she came to a festival and since he was here on business planned to return to her home but ended up getting a room also. The porch was part of the beginning of a relationship that blossomed into a wedding.
While Rev. Anderson was the minister at the First United Methodist Church here, he referred to the Gillum House as the guestrooms of the parsonage because his family always stayed with us. When his daughter married, after the reception many of the extended family drifted over to sit on the porch reminiscing for several hours with so many people on the porch – on chairs we brought out, on the glider, the porch railing, and the steps – that you felt the step back in time to when the family gathered on a Sunday afternoon! It was wonderful, the kind of thing that an innkeeper makes a notch on her broom handle for.
It seems many bed & breakfasts agree with me – a front porch is as important as a comfortable bed and a wonderful breakfast.
The innkeeper at Claiborne House Bed & Breakfast in Rocky Mount, Virginia has collected photos of B & B porches as she puts it “from Louisiana to Saskatchewan”. Here is the link to her Blog – http://claibornehouse.blogspot.com/ .