Haint Blue

An unusual phrase but one with a lot of meaning and tradition especially in certain US regions.

Haint blue is a collection of pale shades of blue-green that are traditionally used to paint porch ceilings in the southern United States. The tradition originated with the Gullah in Georgia and South Carolina, mostly lowlands where many former African slaves and their descendants have lived for decades. A favorite form of the blue is natural indigo dyes, a product first produced in the South Carolina colony in 1739, which became a major export product.

Over the years, this haint blue has become very popular for many Southerns (in Georgia, South Carolina, Florida and Alabama) of all races to paint their front porches, the porch ceiling, doors and the window shutters. The shades of blue vary from sky blue to mint green to turquoise have been labeled haint blue. The purpose: to keep evil spirits or ghosts away. The old American-American tradition was that ghosts would not cross water and with blue a symbol of water, it made sense to paint a portion of one’s home blue to trick the ghosts not to enter, they thought it was water.

Another reason for the light blue porches would be to trick wasps and other insects into thinking it’s the sky, taking their nests elsewhere. Also, the lime mixed with the paint helped keep insects away.

However, not just some Southern locations but blue porches are still prevalent in cities like Boston and Philadelphia where Victorian homes are popular. Victorian-era homeowners favored colors inspired by nature, such as brown and olive green. Light blue porch ceilings, it turns out, match the color of the sky perfectly and help to visually extend daylight even after the sun has begun to set.

So here is an item you need to check in your family history for any homes with this ‘Haint Blue‘.

Photos: Blue shutters; Blue porch and ceiling in South Carolina and Blue used on a New England home.

Related FamilyTree.com Blogs:

Southern State Archives

Unusual Ancestry for US States

Appalachian States

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