History

Haint Blue

I’ve been volunteering within the library archives at the Douglas County Historical Society for little over a year now. It’s what I like to refer to as my (free) weekly therapy session. My heart, my mind, my soul all feel happy and at peace every week that I’m there.

The society is located on the Historic Fort Omaha site, which is also home to a branch of Metropolitan Community College. The campus retains and uses many of the original buildings from the Fort, and the Historical Society does as well. They have a museum in the General Crook House with a lovely Victorian garden surrounding the museum. And the library archives are located next door in what used to be a duplex home, I’m assuming, for officers.

But what I never noticed was that all of the porches and overhangs of the archive building have haint blue painted ceilings. And I literally clapped my hands with joy when I realized that.

Haint blue is really a varying shade of sky blue. It can have hints of Robin’s egg, powder, aqua, cobalt, or gray even. It’s a Southern tradition, to paint the ceiling of porches blue in order to protect the home from “haints”, restless spirits who have, for whatever reason, not moved on from this world. Besides porches, haint blue can be used on window and door trims to prevent haints from entering and overtaking the homeowner. It’s a protection against evil.

But haint blue also has other uses. The blue may also fool insects and birds, tricking the creatures into thinking the ceiling is actually the sky which prevents webs and nests to be built.

Because porches are an extension of living space within your home the paler color blue upon the ceiling can help emulate daylight making it feel like the hours are extended.

I love the look of haint blue on the ceilings of porches. If my own home’s porch ceiling wasn’t sided, it would’ve been painted haint blue within weeks of my moving in there. Ah, well. Maybe the next house…

Sources:

The Whys Behind the Blue Porch Ceiling

Pretty & Practical: The History of “Haint Blue” Porch Ceilings

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4 thoughts on “Haint Blue”

  1. Oh man, I volunteer at a local library here in Austin and it’s my therapy as well. I love to organize and be around books and people reading them. Gives me faith in humanity every time I’m there. I was just up in Omaha a week and a half ago – attended the Brew at the Zoo fest. Had a great time.

    1. It’s the best! My day job is at a library as well and it’s always so encouraging to see parents and nannies bringing children in for storytime.

      I’ve yet to attend Brew at the Zoo but I’ve friends that go and they always have a good time. Glad to hear you had a great time! I’m pretty biased, but I think we have the best zoo in country! 🙂

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