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Conference On History/Significance of The Front Porch Set For Oct. 20-21 At Plein Air

Plein Air is located in Taylor, Mississippi.
Plein Air is located in Taylor, Mississippi.

The first annual “Conference On The Front Porch” will be held October 20 to 21, 2016, at The Mill at Plein Air in Taylor, according to Campbell McCool, founder of the Plein Air community located in Taylor.

McCool said, “This conference will focus on the architectural as well as the sociological importance of the front porch in the American South. Topics such as the history of the front porch, its decline and resurgence, and its role in building community will be explored. The porch and presidential elections and the stylistic evolutions of the front porch will also be discussed.”

The keynote speaker for the inaugural conference will be R. Scott Cook – author of the seminal study, “The Cultural Significance of the Front Porch” which he produced at The University of Virginia. Cook’s work is frequently cited by such media as National Public Radio and others as one of the most authoritative studies on the importance of the front porch in modern academia.

Cook said, “In the period immediately before and after World War II, the American front porch became a relic of the past, an architectural feature and cultural symbol no longer important to Americans. The technological and social forces that initiated this change will be explored at the conference. As well as those that have brought the porch back to center stage.”

The Center for the Study of Southern Culture at Ole Miss is contributing and Professor Emeritus Charles Reagan Wilson will examine the social space created by porches, and how that shapes communities.

“The Center values discussions which involve multiple disciplines and perspectives and this conference will bring people together who are interested in the history and culture of something with long-standing and evolving cultural significance — the front porch,” said Becca Walton, Associate Director for Projects with The Center for the Study of Southern Culture.

The list of speakers and panelists continues to evolve. Those confirmed are as of this release:

R. Scott Cook – author of “The Cultural Significance of the Front Porch.”

Michael Dolan – Editor of American History magazine and author of The American Front Porch: An Informal History of an Informal Place.

Carter Wilkie – historian and author of “The Search for Community in the Age of Urban Sprawl.”

Leah Kemp – interim Director of The Carl Small Town Center Group at The Mississippi State School of Architecture.

Charles Reagan Wilson – former head of The Center For The Study of Southern Culture and now Professor Emeritus.

Claude Stephens (aka Crow Hollister) – founder and President of The Professional Porch Sitters Union and a frequent commentator on NPR.

V. John Tee – Atlanta-based architect and frequent commentator on the stylistic evolution of the porch in the American South.

“We plan on this becoming a significant annual happening where community, development, architecture, and culture are examined within the common theme of the front porch,” said McCool.

In addition to the two days of panels and lectures, there will be an evening porch concert and a second night of a porch play.

The conference is open to architects, cultural historians, sociologists, developers and lovers of all things front porch. The cost to attend is $225 which includes attendance of all panels and lectures, six meals, and the play and concert.

Attendance for the first year is limited to 180 people.

To register, please contact: 662.234.3151 or visit www.theconferenceonthefrontporch.com.

Plein Air is one of Mississippi’s true front porch neighborhoods. Information on Plein Air can be found at www.pleinairtaylor.com.


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