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Nostalgia May 2018

Bring Back Those Vestibules

By Lois Greene Stone

Besides bringing back walls, ability to have privacy when wanted, or share space with family when it’s a choice – maybe re-designing the vestibule could solve the problem of security?

Might Amazon’s concept for secure package delivery to one’s house mean bringing back an area common before climate-controlled homes?

Houses once had vestibules. The front door opened to a space with another door that then led to the interior. By closing the exterior first, the cold air didn’t whoosh into the foyer. When leaving, the exiting person shut the interior followed by the main door with its latch
and locks

Plaster walls, common in that era, didn’t just mark specific rooms but also offered privacy. I could cut out a dress pattern in the dining room because I liked the mahogany table with its wide surface and my mother didn’t object to the marks that denoted life and use was being done by a tangible piece of wood. She could be cooking in the kitchen, my younger sister might be in her bedroom upstairs reading, my older sister could be rehearsing her role in the school play while standing in the living room, and none of us could see each other. A closed door, made of solid wood, ensured we would not be disturbed in our bedrooms as I listened to the radio’s presentation of “Lux Presents Hollywood,” while something else was going on I couldn’t hear from another area

Today’s houses are open spaces promoted, perhaps, by builders who could make a profit since walls, 2x4 supports, doors, wallboard, paint could be eliminated under the guise of modern. Kitchens have counter stools, difficult for older people, rather than actual tables and chairs in what used to be a dinette. There are fewer cabinets. Where are second sets of dishes placed?

And whatever happened to the shallow but wide pantry, the broom closet? Cleaning equipment, like a vacuum, is now generally pressed against a winter coat in the main hallway closet. Plastic replaced copper for plumbing pipes, and appearance rather than performance dictates to builders. Individuality cannot be shown in communities that insist all siding be a choice of a couple of colors, rural mailboxes be clones of one another, sheds in yards are taboo.

Yet we currently have artificial intelligence able to control routine tasks and enlighten us without need for bulky encyclopedias. What structure could be useful from past floor plans?

Amazon has a good idea to thwart the thieves that follow delivery trucks whose drivers place parcels on a step or by an entry and leave as their responsibility has ended. Online shopping has caught on and more comes by such means. This company has already installed package lockers in many apartment houses’ mail centers, and wants to have a pass code to unlock a homeowner’s place so a driver can place a package inside. It claims a security camera will accompany this task so the homeowner can feel safe about the house’s contents. How?

Attention architects and marketers of technology: besides bringing back walls, ability to have privacy when wanted, or share space with family when it’s a choice – maybe re-designing the vestibule could solve the problem of security? This time, the key-locked door would be the interior one and the outside door would actually be one Amazon’s people can pass code. If a building planner promotes this as successfully as lack-of-walls has been elevated to a position of status, it might work!


Lois Greene Stone, writer and poet, has been syndicated worldwide. Poetry and personal essays have been included in hard & soft-cover book anthologies.