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Porches of New Canaan: A place for socializing and relaxing

Published 4:54 pm, Friday, August 23, 2013

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  • The Kennellys enjoy their porch on St. Johns Place. From left (humans): John, Katie, Lucy, and Liz. Photo: Tyler Woods
    The Kennellys enjoy their porch on St. Johns Place. From left (humans): John, Katie, Lucy, and Liz. Photo: Tyler Woods

 

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The following is the second of an ongoing series featuring New Canaan's porches.

The Kennelly family sat on their porch last Friday evening looking the part of a small bit of America.

The two youngest girls, Katie and Lucy, joked and squealed over the contents of an iPad. Their mother, Liz, was dressed in all white and dad, John, wore a polo shirt following an afternoon on the golf course. The two older children, twins Emma and Owen, 16, were not around; Owen showed up closer to dinner time.

"This is my favorite time on the porch -- five o'clock on Friday," Liz said. "It's the perfect place to unwind."

The porch is decorated with two armchairs, a couch and a coffee table, all made of wicker; a white wooden rocking chair; and, on the other side, a hanging swing. Vines of wisteria drape from the porch's roof.

"It's like an extra room. The street is one of the best streets in New Canaan," John said, looking out onto St. Johns Place.

The house was built in 1903 on the street named after one of New Canaan's earliest families, the St. Johns. The St. Johns had an estate on Ferris Hill and various members married into some of the other early New Canaan families, such as the Smiths (Smith Ridge Road) and the Weeds (Weed Street). Enoch St. John, born in 1756, was a colonel in the American army after the Revolution. He's buried at Lakeview Cemetery. Samuel St. John, born in 1813, was the valedictorian at Yale University in 1834 and went on to be a chemistry professor at Western Reserve College, later known as Case Western Reserve. The family belonged to the Congregational Church of New Canaan, which is now located on God's Acre, which is at the foot of St. Johns Place. Many of the houses on the block date from the Victorian period.

The Kennellys moved to New Canaan six years ago from San Francisco in large part for the schools. They bought a home in a more rural part of town, but found the area too spread out and the house too much to maintain. So they moved to downtown New Canaan, where they can walk to restaurants and John can walk to the train station every morning for his job in New York City.

The porch is not only a place for the kids to do their homework outside, but also is a venue to socialize with neighbors.

"We've had people over to have a glass of wine on the porch before dinner in town," Liz Kennelly said. "Just sitting here and having people drive by and saying, `Hey! We're about to have pizza, want to join us?' The porch was a major attraction for us, and I think it's been a bigger benefit than we thought."

Do you have a great porch? We'd love to hear from you! Contact reporter Tyler Woods to tell us about your porch.

twoods@bcnnew.com; 203-330-6582; @Woods_NCNews