advice needed for porch floor over basement/crawlspace
We have a 1930's house with a block foundation and crawlspace that extends to the outside of the front porch, so that the porch is over the crawlspace. Some friends have a similar issue with their 1894 house where their basement extends to under the porch.
Both of our porches have some damage (consistent with the age of the house) and we both have some water that's getting through the porch and into the space below. My friends are left with a leaky basement, I'm left with a crawlspace that I can't seal until I can address this problem.
So far between the two of us we've been told that our only choices are to put down a solid-surface porch, or create so many layers that we'd never be able to open our porch doors, or even (in my case) get rid of the foundation under the porch entirely except for the sections under the porch pillers in order to properly ventilate it. Um... no.
We both inventoried our neighborhoods and see that at least half of the houses have foundations that go around the outside of the porches, and so have porches over basements or crawlspaces. My previous house (another 1890's house) had a porch over the basement and in 16 years I never had problems with water coming through. All of these houses have survived a lot of years with just the porch floorboards over the joists.
Help! Was there some special magic to the floors from 80+ years ago that were put above basements or crawl spaces, that kept them from flooding the space below? Any solution for us now?