Last week, our dinner guests almost didn’t make it out after dinner.  We got their coats from the library closet and ended up in the front parlor.  There is an French door with sidelights identical to the front door in the living room, but you can’t get out.  The door is currently nailed shut, and has a wrought-iron railing across it on the outside. We know from the old plans that the door into the library was originally directly across from the outside door in the parlor.  When we pulled up the carpet, the wear made it clear that the main traffic once went from outside to the room now the library.

Today I ran across an article on double front doors by Bill Kibbel at Old House Web.  We had speculated on a couple of the folk explanations he has collected for double front doors, but hadn’t settled on anything convincing. He concludes they are purely style, a solution to preserving symmetry on a Georgian facade without a central hall, used by the Dutch, Quakers, and German immigrants in Pennsylvania and New Jersey in the 18th and 19th centuries.   Those are the people, along with the Scots-Irish, who settled this area.

Of course, our house is much newer than that, and the facade is no longer symmetrical – besides more elaborate trim around the remaining working door, a room was added to one side.  But in the double front doors, here is one more hidden influence from the frontier settlers of more than 200 years ago.

Advertisements