BY ANDRÉ TAYBRON In some architectural history courses, students may be told that the Frank William Andrew’s house by H.H. Richardson introduced the veranda into American domestic design. The rationale stated for this innovation is that in the late-nineteenth century the United States wanted to open into the natural setting. The idea that an open inside/outside design may have originated in the West African rainforest, where it was used to mitigate the extreme heat, is conveniently left out. The following extract from the Director of the College of Engineering and Architecture at Howard University Bradford C. Grant’s critique “Accommodation and Resistance: The Built Environment and the African American Experience”1 ought to ignite questions about the validity of what is currently taught in traditional core curriculum courses. Grant notes that Berkeley Professor Carl Anthony 2 counters the pretense of “so many architectural historians, that the slaves played no important role in shaping the architectural traditions of the country during its formative years.”3 Says Grant: “…Anthony sheds light on the New World evolution of the now-ubiquitous front porch, countering the conventional view that ‘early English colonists invented it in response to new climatic requirements.’”4 
Pointing out that the “veranda is widespread in the indigenous architecture of the West African rain forest,” he asserts that the front porch is not so much a matter of colonial invention as it is of colonial adaptation. This hypothesis is borne-out by the later work of John Michael Vlach, writing in Dell Upton’s primer America’s Architectural Roots: Ethnic Groups That Built America.5 (c) 2012 BRONEIST Consulting. All rights reserved.
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