A courtyard, simply stated, is a fully or partially enclosed area that is open to the sky.
Courtyards have a long architectural history, with examples found as far back as 6400 BCE in the Jordan Valley, and the reasons for their enduring appeal are obvious. Courtyard homes satisfy the human needs for security and retreat while bringing the restorative power of nature to your daily life in a soothing, intimate manner.
Dating back many thousands of years, the original purpose for courtyards seems to be as a cooking area, allowing for both privacy through containment behind walls and for smoke to escape from cooking over open flame. As is still true today with modern kitchens, this made the cooking area a gathering space for friends and family from the very beginning.
By the time of the ancient Romans, courtyards were often used to entertain, still through shared meals, but now with hosted parties and traveling musicians.
This ultimately led to the notion of what we think of as a royal “court” a term that takes its most basic meaning from the trusted friends and allies who would gather in a royal courtyard.
A common uniting factor of the New England Colonial home is a prominently featured front door, often accentuated in some way with a decorative crown—or pediment—supported by pilasters. This statement-making front entry may also be projected forward to create an entry porch supported by slender columns. Typically, the entrance is positioned at the center of the home, with a symmetrical facade extending to either side.
Often found along Main Street in many small American towns, Colonial homes evoke a sense of Americana like apple pie and hot dogs on the Fourth of July.