Porte-cochère. Oooh la la!
Admittedly, that isn’t exactly how the Borough of Doylestown’s Zoning Hearing Board and Historic and Architectural Review Board put it when they approved the design for 127 East State’s new carport, a beautiful structure that will complement this iconic A.O. Martin building. But approve it they did.
“We went with the chunky timbers to reflect Martin’s style that he seemed to use so frequently,” says Jake Taylor for Ernst Brothers. “We’re also using brick on the half wall that compliment the building. It’s a style that we like a lot and that many recognize from Martin’s large body of work in the borough.”
A take-off on the French term porte-cochère, or “covered portal,” the lowly carport actually has an impressive provenance. According to the Carport Integrity Policy for the Arizona State Historic Preservation Office (who knew?), open-sided, covered carports were used by the Prairie School architect Walter Burley Griffin as early as 1909 and by other Prairie School designers by 1913.
The name carport was coined by renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright when he designed a carport for the first of his “Usonian” homes, the house of Herbert Jacobs, built for his visionary Broadacre City in Madison, Wisconsin, in 1936.
Wright conceived of houses that “would relate directly to nature, emerging from the earth, as it were, unimpeded by a foundation, front porch, downspouts, protruding chimney, or distracting shrubbery.” (James Dennis, current owner)
A sweet story describes this 1936 exchange: Wright explained to his client, “A car is not a horse, and it doesn’t need a barn. Cars are built well enough now so that they do not require elaborate shelter.” Jacobs then reportedly said, “Our cheap second-hand car had stood out all winter at the curb, often in weather far below zero. A carport was a downright luxury for it.”
And coming soon, this brick and wood carport, offspring of the porte-cochère and Prairie School vehicle storage, will serve 127 East State owners with a practical, handsome solution that the Doylestown community can appreciate.
With new windows in place, 127 East is will be entering underground plumbing and the framing stage. We’ll be going back inside to report on that progress in the weeks ahead.