Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Blue Porch Ceilings

Ever notice how the porch ceilings of many historic homes are painted blue? There certainly are a number of them in my neighborhood, including my own house. 

It never occurred to me why a porch ceiling would be blue until we moved in couple of months ago and my brother asked about it.  Since then I've come across a couple of theories. 
One is that bees and spiders mistake the blue color of the porch for open sky and are discouraged from building nests and webs there. Another insect related theory is that around the time this tradition originally started in the 1800's, the ingredients used to make paint were toxic and that had the unintended benefit of deterring insects before they could enter a home.

Some say it is because a blue ceiling gives the impression of extended daylight as night begins to fall.

The most entertaining theory, however, originates in the South. The handmade pigment of this light blue-green color, referred to as Haint blue (Haint being an evil spirit of the dead), was formulated specifically to trick evil spirits into believing it was water. Apparently, evil spirits can't cross water and thus the home's inhabitants were protected.

Whatever the reason, we''ll keep our porch ceiling blue when we eventually paint our house. It is an easy way to stay in touch with our home's historic roots (and if it wards off evil spirits then that's an added bonus).

Here's a sample of some of the houses in my hood that have porch ceilings painted blue-green.

Are blue porch ceilings common where you live?

Note: For more information about Haint Blue, check out these resources:
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