Return to the Old House Forum | Post a Follow-Up

AARGUH! Need help with a name!

Posted by kframe19 (My Page) on
Fri, Apr 17, 09 at 15:08


Older houses often had a structure that went around the front door to a house. Essentially it was a small, outdoor room with windows and a door that allowed people to enter, shut the door, then open the main door to the house.

This prevented huge gusts of cold air from entering the house and warm air from leaving.

What was that structure called???

All I can think of is breezeway, and that is not correct!

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: AARGUH! Need help with a name!


RE: AARGUH! Need help with a name!

If it is a formal external architectural element it is often called a portico.

RE: AARGUH! Need help with a name!

Except that a portico is roofed, but open to the weather, as a porch.
The vestibule was reinvented during the 1970's oil crisis as an "airlock entry".
The word vestibule literally means cloaking room, like where you donned your overcoat.
It is always understood to be a chamber, not a porch, stoop, atrium, veranda, or piazza.

RE: AARGUH! Need help with a name!

For all the modest 1880s-1920s houses I have owned/renoed here, it was the standard setup--an eight foot hallway with a row of coat hooks and another doorway at the end. Usually, the second door had long since been removed. From the 1970s on, virtually every reno removed most of the hallway and all the rest of the first floor partitions separating living and dining rooms with the kitchen at the rear.

RE: AARGUH! Need help with a name!

In architecture the term "vestibule" is taken from the Roman house element "vestibulum" which was not a room in the house but a small alcove open to the street containing the front door. The term was later used to denote an entry court of some kind but today "vestibule" refers to any small space leading to or exiting from a more important space.

The term "portico" historically refers to a formal entrance element with a roof and columns of some kind but today it is used even for some enclosed entrance elements if the underlying portico structure is evident rather than integral with the design of the house. I suppose such an element should be called an "enclosed portico" but then no one says "enclosed vestibule".

RE: AARGUH! Need help with a name!

Yes, vestibule is what I was thinking of.

The house I grew up in, and the house Mom lives in now, had provisions for EXTERIOR vestibules that were erected in the winter around the front door.

The cleats into which the vestibule walls locked are still in the woodwork in both houses.

While digging through the basement in Mom's current house, I found parts of what I believe to be the old vestibule, and I'm thinking seriously about trying to resurect it.

RE: AARGUH! Need help with a name!

I recently visited Halifax, Nova Scotia. It's full of beautiful Victorians, many with original small glassed-in front porches. Up there, they call it a "storm porch". Makes sense.

 o Post a Follow-Up

Please Note: Only registered members are able to post messages to this forum.

    If you are a member, please log in.

    If you aren't yet a member, join now!

Return to the Old House Forum

Information about Posting

  • You must be logged in to post a message. Once you are logged in, a posting window will appear at the bottom of the messages. If you are not a member, please register for an account.
  • Please review our Rules of Play before posting.
  • Posting is a two-step process. Once you have composed your message, you will be taken to the preview page. You will then have a chance to review your post, make changes and upload photos.
  • After posting your message, you may need to refresh the forum page in order to see it.
  • Before posting copyrighted material, please read about Copyright and Fair Use.
  • We have a strict no-advertising policy!
  • If you would like to practice posting or uploading photos, please visit our Test forum.
  • If you need assistance, please Contact Us and we will be happy to help.

Learn more about in-text links on this page here