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A Brief History of Outdoor Living

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

A Brief History of Outdoor Living

The summer months are upon us now and as we sit or cook under our pavilions and relax in the shade and comfort of our gazebos the brief escape from the sun or the chance to relax at the end of a day is a welcome time to enjoy.  Or perhaps you are going out to harvest herbs and vegetables via the throughway of  stained wood pergolas.
Regardless of what you are using your outdoor structures for, have you ever wondered where the names of the structures that provide us with that shade and comfort to grill and relax originated.
Here are some bits of information on outdoor living history that may be of interest to you to toss out at your next gathering.
The pergola gets its name from the Latin word pergola which means “projecting eave”.
It was first used in ancient Egypt to provide shade from the desert heat and was considered to be a very precious commodity.  The pergola was also popular in Italy and other countries in Europe to cover walkways and garden areas which is what we use pergolas for even in the present.
I think the gazebo is the most upscale of the outdoor structures. Gazebo history goes back to at least late 18th – 19th century.
John and William Halfpenny who were English architects mention the gazebo in their book titled “Rural Architecture in the Chinese Taste”. Or if you want to be like a former president, note that George Washington has a gazebo at Mount Vernon.  Thomas Jefferson used to call them summerhouses and pavilions.
In addition, the gazebo suffers from a few false etymologies for its name.
Some say it was derived from the French term Que C’est Beau (How Beautiful)
Or perhaps the Marconic Latin word Gazebo which means (I shall gaze).
Possibly one of the more obscure origins for the word gazebo may have come from the Casbah in Algiers.
Last but not least is our old friend the pavilion which is now most certainly more diversified than its previous history of being titled as a temporary to semi permanent structure that was used for garden banquets and balls and was really just a word that came about for a covering for any special occasion.
The pavilion’s high peaked roof and open air design now serve our needs for parking cars, outdoor kitchen covering and patio area safe haven.
With materials such as vinyl to make maintaining these structures much easier outdoor living is an ever growing area of interest. The challenge is to come up with something that no one has seen before.
So whether you are sitting in your gazebo for some quiet time or you have just donned you new chef’s cap to give that outdoor kitchen a workout with your pavilion protecting you from the potential foul weather at your opening summer party. Perhaps you have just settled in under the pergola after a morning swim to enjoy your paper and the slatted roof is providing the perfect mix of early morning sun with a touch of shade.

Remember that your personal fortress of solitude has a bit of history and nobility to it as

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