Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Doors

Karen Anne asked if I still have the original doors and transoms from the ends of my side porch and if I knew why they closed in those doors.  The short answer is no to both, but here's the better answer:

Last summer when my friend Larry and I were taking the shingles off the side porch (and I was freaking out over the mud dawber nests) we uncovered those trim pieces side by side and then uncovered a threshold.  Once we started scraping off the tar paper and the flaking white paint, we saw ghosts of small scalloped hinges on one of the trim pieces and realized there must've been a screen door there.  We found similar hinge ghosts and construction on the other end of the porch, too.  (By the way, the photos of those marks are among the photos I lost when my hard drive crashed and you can't see the marks as clearly now that I've painted the trim.  Darnit.)  Originally there must have been doors at either "short" end of the side porch.  Larry's thinking is that with the doors and transoms open, as well as the windows in the house, there would have been a nice cross-breeze throughout the house.  The door on the south end of the porch would've opened into the second parlor and the door on the north end would've opened into a bedroom.  It must have been really pretty as well as being cool in the summer. 

As I was standing there last summer lamenting the loss of those doors, Larry was frowning, deep in thought.  "What's on the other side of this wall, kid?" he asked me.  Closets, in both rooms.  So he carefully took off a clapboard in order to see inside the wall.  We were both hoping that the doors and transoms were encased in the newer wall.  No such luck.  The back wall of both closets is drywall, and although I've been tempted to hack into it and see if the interior door trim still exists underneath it, I haven't done so yet.  I doubt it's there, and unless and until I replace those original doors, I don't want to go sawing big holes in my closet walls.  We think the addition of those two closets is probably the reason the doors were closed in.  I'd rather have the doors, myself. 

Without the original doors, obviously I can't know for sure that they had transoms; however, since every other original door in my house (except for the one between the dining room and the kitchen) has a transom window above it, I'm making an educated guess that those porch doors did, too.  Mentioning original doors brings me to this:

That, with slight variations in the trim, is what all my interior doors look like.  All of the original circa 1887 doors have been sawed in half vertically.  This might be even more of an indignity to my poor house than the shingles.  At least I could right that wrong.  I fear the only fix for this is to buy doors salvaged from another old house.  Not only did they saw the doors in half, they apparently threw away most of the original hardware.  (They did re-use the steeple hinges, although not on this particular door.)  I mean, seriously, what kind of misguided idiot does something like that?!  Oh...the answer's in the question.


  1. Holy cow. Doors sawed in half. That's a first in terms of what I've seen.

  2. That's a first for me too. You can't help but wonder what they were thinking.

    I toured a house last spring that had doors on three side of a porch. It makes perfect sense for that era.

  3. I wonder if they sawed them in half so they would require as much space to open and close.

    Also I wonder if it is possible to reattach the halves by running them through a joiner to get a clean edge and then install biscuits, glue, and then clamp. Use a lot of biscuits and use the biggest ones you can find. Might be worth trying this with one door before investing in buying replacements.

    The doors btw are very cool.

  4. I agree with Jan. See if you can get a carpenter to join them. But seriously, what the heck were those people thinking? I can't even fathom why someone would think that was a good idea.

  5. Sometimes my stupidity amazes me. I had bookmarked your page the first time I commented, back on New Years. I guess I bookmarked that certain blog though. I thought you hadnt posted since then. Wow, Im dense sometimes.

  6. LOVE those transoms. How gorgeous. And what a thought about the now lost double doors. D*mn I hate stupid people!

  7. Jan, after I posted this I was griping about it to Mare and he had the same idea! I don't know when he'll get to it, but it's worth a try.

    Rachel, you crack me up! I've done the same thing. You have a lot of reading to catch up on this winter. :)