In case you missed yesterday’s porch-warming party on the Charlotte Rail Trail, Edna’s Porch is officially open. Situated at 220 E. Carson Blvd. and overlooking the intersection of the LYNX Blue Line tracks and East Carson Boulevard, Edna’s Porch is a bright, buttercup-yellow structure carrying three double porch swings.
“The double porch swing is just kind of a wonderful thing,” said local architect and founder of Centro CityWorks David Furman. He and his company designed and completed this project in partnership with Charlotte Area Transit System and Charlotte Center City Partners on an unused, grassy space between the Blue Line power substation and the Rail Trail.
Furman’s concept was inspired by, and named for, his grandmother and her front porch that once overlooked Independence Boulevard. Her home once sat upon Lamar Avenue, which was severed by Independence, and Furman and his brothers used to sit on her porch swing, watching the cars go by. They’d play a game, identifying the car brands as they passed.
When the house was torn down, Furman reinstalled the porch swing at his office on East Boulevard at the time. It stayed there for 20 years before age wore it down.
“I would use that swing every day,” he said. “I’d open the mail on the swing and sometimes I’d meet clients out there.”
Now, Rail Trail pedestrians can plop down on the structural re-imagining of the swing.
“The yellow is bright, it’s distinctive, it’s happy,” Furman said. “It works with nature, it works with greenery, with fall colors, sort of the natural landscape, yet it stands out. It says, look at this, this might be something special you want to come touch.”
He previously took that color approach with what he refers to as one of his “guerrilla activities” on the Rail Trail, when he dropped six large yellow, steel chairs right by Futo Buta and the Bland Street Station.
“I wanted them to be big enough that you could kind of wallow in them, or put your coffee cup on them or your laptop on them,” he said.
His vision is taking leftover scrap pieces of property and turning them into engaging community places.
He admitted the ergonomics of the swing here on Edna’s Porch were challenging. “It’s not as comfortable as it ought to be,” he said.
But when you do take a moment to rock back and forth in one of the swings, notice how it tilts toward uptown.
“It sort of gestures toward our center city — that you could sit on the porch and watch the skyline,” Furman said. “It begs you to go up and sit on it and swing in it.”
Notice the porch-like vibe of the wooden deck, the wooden bleachers built into the sloping topography for performances or relaxation, and the concrete sculpture that was originally meant to be a fountain but is now good climbing material.
The porch is just one of the many scrap pieces of property Furman expects to see transformed into what he calls “chapters” along the story line of the Rail Trail. As you walk along the trail and discover artistic additions along the way, he said, “You create community.”
According to Cheryl Myers, Senior Vice President and Chief Planning & Development Officer at Charlotte Center City Partners, the Rail Trail will ultimately combine more than 70 individual spaces into a linear park over time.
“I want to engage the community and let them pause and enjoy that particular moment,” Furman said about his additions.
Photo: Katie Toussaint