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A Brief History of Doors in Contemporary America

The front door has always been one of the most important architectural features of any building throughout time, whether it was a shack, cottage, palace, or castle. The door has represented both welcoming to guests and protection from enemies.

Plank Doors

Wood Plant Door with Iron Work

Wood Plant Door with Iron Work

When America was being settled by Europeans they primarily used the plank style, which lasted from the earliest settlement in Jamestown in 1607 until the early 1700’s. Although much more advanced doors were being designed and constructed in Europe, the settlers were focused on survival and opted for the simpler design of a plank door. Most plank doors were built using wood slats with boards that were secured cross-ways to keep them held together.

Crossboard

Another variation of plank doors is called the crossboard. The crossboard is essentially two plank doors secured together, each side being a different direction, either vertical, horizontal, diagonal, or in a diamond. This construction is a very simple form, but gave a much sturdier door for protection and to secure the home from the seasonal elements.

Georgian

Six panel Georgian oak door with painted surrounding Frame

Six panel Georgian oak door with painted surrounding Frame

After the early immigrants to America became more established they were able to spend time on building more permanent dwellings. This lead them to being influenced to what was being used in Europe. The Georgian style of frame and panel doors. Frame and panel doors were considered a very solid door while they did a better job of expanding and contracting than did the older style of plank doors that had difficulty changing with the seasons.

Federal

Fort Hunter Mansion provides a fine example of Federal style.

Fort Hunter Mansion provides a fine example of Federal style.

After the end of the colonial era, which is considered the 1700’s until the end of the Revolutionary War, a new type of door was introduced. The new style was adopted where an added square edge was added to the panels of the door giving even a more finished look to the door.

Machine Made Doors

Woodworking machines were introduced in the 1830’s in America which changed the way doors were made. Although the basics remained nearly the same the ability to embellish a door was increase and this lead to more ornate doors.

Today

Many people choose wood doors for their beauty. Modern insulated fiberglass and steel doors are energy efficient.

Many people choose wood doors for their beauty. Modern insulated fiberglass and steel doors are energy efficient.

Although doors have mainly played a practical purpose throughout American history it is interesting to see what had influenced their change. In the past most all doors were made of wood, now we see them being made of wood, fiberglass, and steel.

Images from pinterest, arttus.com, oldstonehouses.com, and energy.gov

 

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