The History of Awnings in Southeastern Massachusetts

Residential AwningAwnings have held an appeal to residential and commercial property owners for many years. They are used to control sunlight and temperature from the outside, reducing the amount of sun damage and heat that comes in through windows and doors. This was particularly beneficial in the years before modern air-conditioning was available, yet still extremely valuable in reducing energy consumption and lowering utility bills for modern property owners today.

Commercial awnings were used to attract attention to businesses and provide a sheltered space for shoppers to look into storefront windows on rainy or sunny days. They also protect the featured items in the shop window from the damages of sunlight. The use of ornate patterns, stripes, colors and eventually business logos and names, provided a unique combination of style and function to business owners.

Many American cities and towns have begun using custom fabric awnings as part of their preservation of historical buildings, using them to add a touch of color and classic nostalgia, particularly in “main street programs” designed to refresh the look and appeal of these old buildings. The classic look of traditional awnings, combined with modern, more technologically-advanced materials, helps historical building projects protect and enhance.

Awnings Throughout the Ages

Many people do not realize that traditional awnings have been in use as far back as ancient Egypt, when it was noted that woven mats were strung together to create a shade marketplace and to block the desert sun from penetrating homes. Awnings were used in the Roman Empire to provide shelter at large seating areas, such as stadiums and amphitheaters. At the Coliseum they appeared as large, retractable custom fabric awnings that were used in VIP seating areas for rulers and distinguished guests.

Awnings are even mentioned in literature. Lucretius, the famous Roman poet, wrote in 50 B.C. that the sound of thunder was similar to the “linen-awning, stretched o’er mighty theaters.” He talked about the “cracking roar” these traditional awnings would make when stretched between poles and beaten about in the wind. Anyone who has ever been under custom fabric awnings and shelters knows that sound, which has been heard and observed for centuries.

Interestingly enough, the method used to create awnings for use in residential and commercial property changed very little over time. They eventually began to appear here in America, used primarily on storefronts to provide shade and shelter for customers and passersby. Photos of 19th century awnings in Southeastern Massachusetts and all throughout the east coast states reveal simple, utility-based awnings rather than some of the ornate coverings we see today, but the basic construction is still the same.

Installing Awnings on Residential and Commercial Property

From the basic poles and cross-beams that were used back in Ancient Rome to the basic cast irn posts used in the 1800s, on up to the more sophisticated installations of today, residential and commercial property awnings can be installed in a number of different ways and in just about any location. Basic installations have used a combination of hooks, grommets and nails, featuring traditional awnings and valances to create a custom finished product.

More ornate installations can include the strategic use of decorated metal posts and a variety of unique embellishments. Even in the mid-1800s, custom fabric awnings were installed that could be rolled up against a building on nice days. They could be quickly unrolled to provide shade or shelter from sudden rains. Today, more intricate and advanced systems are available, however many homeowners and business owners prefer to use more traditional awnings without all the bells and whistles.

Many of the awnings in Southeastern Massachusetts in past centuries were made of a strong woven material known as canvas duck. This type of custom fabric awning is stronger and much more durable than other types of materials used, making it ideal for coastal areas where damaging sea spray, winds and more intense weather conditions are experienced. Also used to make weather-resistant items, such as tents and sails, this type of material has proven to be very effective throughout its use.

Decorative Custom Fabric Awnings

There are many different ways to customize traditional awnings and turn them into a unique expression for both residential and commercial properties. Choose from solid colors, patterns and stripes and a variety of different shapes, sizes, valances and other enhancements and add-ons. For commercial applications, custom fabric awnings can work to help market and brand a business or to help attract the attention of potential customers.

Homeowners and business owners today can choose from a wide variety of awning materials, from custom aluminum awnings to fabric or canvas awnings, aluminum frames that are treated with a variety of protective coatings and much more. Different designs are intended to protect the property in different ways, shielding it from rain, sun and other inclement weather. Even custom designs are an affordable and quick way to add improvements to any existing structure, instantly increasing the curb appeal of any home or business.

To learn more about all of the colors, fabrics, styles and options available with custom fabric awnings today, contact American Awning & Window in New Bedford. American Awning has been designing, manufacturing and installing custom awnings in Southeastern Massachusetts for over 25 years, serving both residential and commercial property owners.