This section is from "The Horticulturist, And Journal Of Rural Art And Rural Taste", by P. Barry, A. J. Downing, J. Jay Smith, Peter B. Mead, F. W. Woodward, Henry T. Williams. Also available from Amazon: Horticulturist and Journal of Rural Art and Rural Taste.
I do not, indeed, commend it for any beauty, per se, but as being an honest, well-intended shelter and resting-place, which could be grafted upon many an old-style farm-house, with bare door, and set off its barrenness, with quaint, simple lines of hospitality, that would add more to the real effect of the home than a cumbrous series of joiner's arches of tenfold its cost. In the door itself I have dropped a hint of many an old door which confronts the highroad in a score of New England villages. People do not instruct their carpenters to build such doors now; yet I can conceive of worse ones, glazed up and down, with blue and yellow and green glass, in most irritating conjunction. I do not know that I would absolutely advise the building of those ancient divided doors with their diamond "lights;" but wherever they show their quaint faces, looking out tranquilly upon the clash and turmoil of our latter half of the century, I would certainly cherish them; or if I hung a porch over them, it would be such a one as should be in keeping with their quaintness, and yet offer all promise - which a sensible porch should offer - of shelter and rest.
There is a village I never pass through but I ache to clap over one or more of its old-time doors (now battling, without, vestige of rooflet, with sun and rain), some such quaint, overhanging beacon of hospitality as I have pictured; I am sure the houses would take on a double homeliness, and I should think of all the inmates as growing thenceforth, every day, more kindly, and every day mellower in their charities.
I next give (No. 33) a little stone porch which, if I do not mistake, is taken from some stone cottage in Cumberland County, England. It belongs, certainly, by its whole air and by its arrangement, to a country where stones of good, straight-splitting quality (such as gneiss) are plentiful, and are used for unpretending cottage architecture. It would seem to have pertained to a house of very modest character, and to one whose position and exposure demanded special shelter. I think it may offer a hint, at least, of the proper use of similar material in our country. We have not half learned yet all that may be accomplished in domestic architecture, with the wealth of stones scattered over our fields. Dear lumber is teaching us somewhat; but necessity will presently teach us more. The great cost of mason work is in the way of any present large use of stone for building purposes, least of all such purpose as a cottage porch. But with straight-cleaving stone at hand, such a porch as I have drawn could be put together, with all its real effect (though not perhaps a great nicety), by common wall-layers; and it is for this reason I have introduced it, hoping that some intelligent proprietor who is in the neighborhood of quarries will put his hands to the task of imitation.
I give still another design (No. 34), copied rudely from an actual porch at Ambleside (Westmoreland); it was shading the door, some fifteen years since, of a village curate. There were vines clambering over it, which I have omitted, in order to give full idea of the simplicity of its construction. I know it is the way of the grand architects to sneer at all rustic work as child's play; but I can not see the pertinence of their sneers; it is quite true that rustic work will not last forever - neither will we; householders and architects, and all the rest of us, have the worms gnawing at our vitals, and the bark falling away, and the end coming swift. But a good, stanch tree trunk, cut in its best season (late autumn), is a very tolerable sort of God's work, and, seems to me, can be put to very picturesque uses. I. don't think the curate's porch is a bad one; as a hint for better ones, I think it is specially good.
Upon the question of the use of right material for rustic work, there is very much to be said; here, I have only space for a suggestion or two. There are some trees which hold their bark wonderfully well; of such is the sassafras, which after its tenth year takes on a picturesque roughness and a rhinoceros-like thickness of skin, which admirably fits it for rustic use. The white ash, assuming after fifteen years a similar thickness of outer covering, holds its coat with almost equal tenacity. The ordinary "pig-nut" hickory holds its bark well; the oak does not; neither does the chestnut. The cedar is perhaps most commonly employed for rustic decoration; cut in the proper season, and due precaution being taken, by coating of oil or varnish, against the ravages of the grubs (which have an uncommon appetite for the sap-wood of cedar), it may hold its shaggy epidermis for a long time. I would suggest to those using it for architectural purposes a wash of crude petroleum; it is a wash that, so far as I know, is proof against the appetite of all insects. Its objectionable odor soon passes away.
Very many of the smooth-barked trees, such as beech, birch, maple, and sycamore, will hold their bark firmly if precautions be taken to exclude the air by varnishing the ends and all such cuts as have been made by the excision of a limb. Old and slow-growing wood will, it must be observed, have less shrinkage, and maintain a better bark surface, than young saplings or trees of rapid growth. But, irrespective of all questions of durability, is there not something rurally attractive in this unpretending porch, whose columns have come from the forest, and whose overarching arms are the arms that overarch God's temples of the wood % Not lacking, surely, some elements of the beautiful in itself; and at the door of a village clergyman, with the ivy showing its glossy leaflets in wealthy labyrinth, and the convolvulus twining up at the base upon whatever vine-hold may offer, and handing out its purple chalices to catch the dews of the morning - is there nothing to be emulated in this ? Let those who love God's simplest graces, answer.