The Evolution of Carports

September 2, 2021

Carports have been around a lot longer than you might expect. While they don’t have the same history as carriage houses or garages, they’ve been a fixture in the United States and beyond since the early part of the 1900s.

Here’s a quick look at the history and development of carports over the years.

The early years

When cars first became available to private consumers, owners of these vehicles started to experiment with how they would store them, often going with old carriage houses they could repurpose for vehicle storage. Drivers who were not wealthy enough to have these carriage houses often used old barns, or would improvise a lean-to next to the home. The lean-to eventually would evolve into what we now come to recognize as the carport.

In 1938, Frank Lloyd Wright designed a series of Usonian style homes for families that were living in developing cities. He used a lot of open but covered outdoor structures in the drive area, and became the first person to use the term “carport” to describe this feature.

With car culture growing throughout the United States and especially exploding after the war, the term “carport” entered the cultural lexicon, and use of carports spread quickly, especially influenced by the popularity of Wright’s architecture.


With advancing designs and manufacturing methods of automobiles, car owners started to keep their vehicles for a decade or longer. With longer ownership, the long-term effects of exposure to the elements became more apparent, and car owners who used to primarily keep their vehicles outside realized they would need a better place to store their vehicles.

Carports represented a cheaper option than garages, and would give vehicle owners additional storage opportunities as well. Carports would help keep rain and snow off the vehicles and would prevent vehicles from being deteriorated by nonstop exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays.

By the later part of the 20th century, there was a lot more standardization with carport design. Earlier carports varied widely in style and design (not to mention quality). By the 1980s and 1990s, metal carports were being built from pre-fabricated kits, which made durable and affordable protection for vehicles much more easily accessible to the average homeowner.

Carports remain particularly common in areas around the country that see warm weather throughout the year, and especially in areas without a lot of precipitation. The American Southwest, for example, relies heavily on the use of carports for vehicle protection, but you can find carports in just about any area throughout the country, as they represent an affordable alternative to garages, especially when attached to a house.

Interested in learning more about how carports have evolved over the years, and the types of designs and characteristics you can find in today’s carports? We encourage you to contact our team today at ABC Awning Company, the premier source for carports, awnings and patio covers in Houston and the surrounding area. We’d be pleased to answer any questions you have about our products and services!

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