Because it’s not just a place; it’s a state of mind.


This is the second annual Conference on the Front Porch.  The conference aims to explore the significance of the front porch in the American South, both from an architectural, as well as a sociological, perspective.  The two day conference explores the origins of the front porch, its role in building and sustaining community, the porch and food, the porch and music, and the porch and its impact on the story-telling tradition in the South. We’ll explore in detail all this and more.

This two day conference is held at The Mill at Plein Air – a 12,000 square foot venue built from entirely reclaimed materials and located in the Plein Air neighborhood in Taylor, MS.  Taylor is a seven minute drive from Oxford and Ole Miss.  

In addition to the lectures and panels, registration includes six meals, and includes a one evening porch concert and a one evening porch play.  The conference is open to architects, developers, planners, social historians, and lovers of all things porch.




John T. Edge is a writer, commentator, and, since its founding in 1999, director of the Southern Foodways Alliance, an institute of the Center for the Study of Southern Culture at the University of Mississippi. He has written several books on Southern food. He contributes to the Oxford American and Garden & Gun and has written a column for The New York Times. His most recent book is The Potlikker Papers: A Food History of the Modern South.



William Dunlap has distinguished himself as an artist, arts commentator and educator, during a career that has spanned more than three decades. His paintings, sculpture and constructions are included in prestigious collections, such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Corcoran Gallery of Art, Lauren Rogers Museum, Mobil Corporation, Riggs Bank, IBM Corporation, Federal Express, The Equitable Collection, Rogers Ogden Collection, Arkansas Art Center, the United States State Department, and United States Embassies throughout the world. While his work is collected across the globe, he never forgets his home is Mississippi.




Custis Wilkie is a journalist, college professor and historian of the American South. He is a Fellow of the Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics at the University of Mississippi, and author of numerous books including Dixie: A Personal Odyssey Through Events That Shaped the Modern South. Historian Douglas Brinkley has written that, “Over the past four decades no reporter has critiqued the American South with such evocative sensitivity and bedrock honesty as Curtis Wilkie.”




Garlan Gudger, Jr is the owner of Southern Accents – the South’s largest collection of architectural antiques – in Cullman, AL. Southern Accents scours the country to find the most unique salvage material and pieces available anywhere. Garlan has been featured on American Pickers, in Garden & Gun Magazine, and scores of other magazine and newspaper stories.




Robert Khayat was the 15th Chancellor of the University of Mississippi. He was appointed in 1995 and served more than a decade in this position.  Khayat, a former student of the University of Mississippi, is the only Chancellor of the university to be a member of the Student Hall of Fame there. He has B.A. and J.D. degrees from the University of Mississippi and a LL.M. degree from Yale University.
He is the author of the best selling book The Education of A Lifetime.  

Scott Barretta is the host of Highway 61 Radio, a noted blues historian, and adjunct instructor of sociology and anthropology at Ole Miss. He was the 2016 recipient of the Mississippi Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts for Mississippi heritage. Barretta, originally from Virginia, came to Mississippi from Sweden in 1999 to serve as editor of Living Blues magazine, a bimonthly publication from the University of Mississippi Center for the Study of Southern Culture, and stayed for the state’s blues music and culture.




For over 35 years John Maxwell has been touring with “Oh, Mr. Faulkner, Do You Write?” after premiering it at New Stage Theatre in Jackson, Mississippi. Since that time, he has toured the show all over the world, taking it to twelve countries and almost all of the United States. He has performed at venues that include The Bottom Line (New York), The Smithsonian, Picolo Spoleto Festival, The Alliance Theatre, The Alabama Shakespeare Festival, and many others. He was honored to present the show at the Cultural Olympiad in Atlanta for an audience including nine Nobel Laureates and former President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalyn.




Tricia Walker is a singer and songwriter whose songs are steeped in the passion, pain and grace of the American South. Born and raised in Mississippi, Tricia has become one of the clearest voices of her own time and place. Her music has been recorded by Faith Hill, Patty Loveless and Alison Krauss, whose performance of Tricia’s Looking in the Eyes of Love earned a Grammy. A recording artist herself, Tricia’s newest CD, The Heart of Dixie, thoughtfully captures the songwriter’s view of the South with well-placed lyrics and music reflecting her folk, R & B and storytelling influences.




Michael Dolan, journalist, television writer/producer and author of “The American Porch: An Informal History of an Informal Place”, and current editor of American History Magazine, knows as much about the significance of the front porch in America as any living person.  He is a frequent commentator whenever the subject is the front porch and will give us a visual tour of one unique town and how the front porch defines its personality.  




Ralph Eubanks is the author of The House at the End of the Road: The Story of Three Generations of an Interracial Family in the American South (HarperCollins, 2009) and Ever Is a Long Time: A Journey Into Mississippi’s Dark Past, which Washington Post book critic Jonathan Yardley named as one of the best nonfiction books of the year. He has contributed articles to the Washington Post Outlook and Style sections, the Chicago Tribune, Preservation and National Public Radio. He is a recipient of a 2007 Guggenheim Fellowship from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation and has been a fellow at the New America Foundation. He is the former editor of the Virginia Quarterly Review at the University of Virginia and served as director of publishing at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. from 1995 to 2013.  



The cost to attend The Conference on The Front Porch is $275.

This fee includes all lectures / conferences / panels and discussions.  It also includes the porch concert and porch play.  Lastly, six meals will be included with your registration.  The first evening meal is at Grit Restaurant and the second is a community table on the lawn dinner.  Breakfast and lunch are included each day of the conference.

To register fill out required fields and press register you will receive a confirmation email and a ticket once we’ve received your check in the mail. Please make your check to:

Main Street Taylor – Porch Conference
PO Box 118
Taylor, MS 38673
attn:  Risa Darby

Please do not send cash and we are not set up to take credit cards at this time.

*Attendance in year two is limited to the first 180 people who sign up.
Fields marked with an * are required

Want to know more about The Conference on the Front Porch?


Wednesday, October 18th, 2017

8:00am – Continental Breakfast in The Mill
9:00am – Keynote Address – John T. Edge “Potlikker and the Porch”
10:00am – Ralph Eubanks – “The Book Mobile”
11:30am – Michael Dolan – “The History of a Town and its Porches”
Noon – Lunch in The Mill
1:30pm -Tour of the Blues Collection at The Center for the Study 
3:30pm – Curtis Wilkie – “A Conversation with Curtis” at the McCool Home
6:00pm – Seated Dinner at Grit Restaurant
8:00pm – John Maxwell’s “Oh Mr. Faulkner Do You Write?” – Porch Play
9:00pm – Afterglow at Private Residence in Plein Air


Thursday, October 19th, 2017

8:30am – Breakfast in The Mill
9:00am- Bill Dunlap – “An American Artist Reflects on the Front Porch”
10:00am – Scott Barretta – “Blues and The Front Porch”
11:45am – Garlan Gudger  – “The Front Porch and Pickin’ Architectural Elements”
12:30pm – Lunch in The Mill
2:00pm – Tour of Rowan Oak 
3:30pm – Tour of historic Oxford Historic Home
6:00pm – Dinner in the Field at Plein Air
8:00pm – Robert Khayat – Personal Poems about Life on the Front Porch
8:30pm – Porch concert by singer-songwriter Tricia Walker
9:30pm – Afterglow at Private Residence in Plein Air