Pining for our front door

We’re all adults here, so I’m not going to sugarcoat this: I despise our front door.


I must respect it for it’s solidity, its locking ability and, uh, that’s all the enthusiasm I can muster. Its color combo is my most-hated of hues (a duo that appears throughout the house): brown and yellow. It—and that siding off to the side—are clearly just plugs jammed in to fill the space; the space that used to be occupied by double doors*, as seen in these photos from 1978 that the previous owner sent me a couple years after I bought the house. I’m happy to see them because they confirm what I deeply suspected. But they break my heart because the doors got tossed.

*Note from 2008: After starting work in this area, it became clear that only the left side was a door. It appears that the right side was a fixed light that mimicked the door.



And yes, these views are from two years after our country’s Bicentennial, when there seemed to be a national mandate regarding red, white and blue. Those are the same railings we just removed in the almost-done-at-least-for-this-year porch project.

But while the front doors are gone, the side porch door escaped their fate. And now it shows us what’s missing out front.




I need to do some work on this old survivor to touch up the shellac and stabilize the wood that’s warped and delaminated a little because there used to be a leak from the side porch roof before we moved in. Anyone have any tips?

This entry was posted in destruction, front door, history, porch and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Pining for our front door

  1. Patricia W. says:

    wow, that is a very pretty door! Sorry to see what they did to the front door. I just had a really old cobbled to death front door replaced. It wasn’t original to the house but now I have a pre-hung steel door that closes tightly. Did I want pre-hung steel? No. But for me, to find a door 34″ wide, 83″ tall that would snugly fit into a 110 year old opening was an order too tall to for me to fill. I hope you find and get what you need for the front. It’s a sorry shame to see what happens to these old places for the sake of a “modern update” and people who have no sense. You are lucky to have photos for reference.

  2. n54th says:

    Yeah, I hear ya. I just wish they had stashed the old doors in the basement somewhere so I could go to my insanity of refurbishing them!

    But I do have the original front door from the old house across the street. Stay tuned for my post about my door collection.

  3. woytek says:

    If you’re looking for tips on fixing-up your rear door, then I’ll offer some stuff that you might already know. If it is shellac (one can tell that it is shellac if it becomes tacky when exposed to denatured alcohol–test on a small spot, preferably an area that is concealed), sand lightly with 220 grit or higher paper, and apply another coat (or two) of shellac. Shellac is a great finish for many reasons, one of which is that it can be repaired with itself. The solvent in the new coat will soften the old shellac, and the new coat and old shellac will bond. Your biggest issue might be color matching–even “clear” shellac will have a slight tint to it when it dries, in most cases.

    In any case, that’s a beautiful door.

    As for your front doors, I might recommend finding a local woodworker interested in a door project. Your doors look like they wouldn’t be all that hard to replicate, with the possible exception of that little bit of stamped or carved moulding under the glazing. I’ve seen similar moulding available pre-made in various lumber suppliers, so you or your door-maker might be able to find some close-enough moulding. A decent woodworker should be able to get the measurements to base part sizes on your existing side door, and measurements for the opening from the existing opening.

    I recently built a new storm door for our front entrance. I based the part sizes on the existing front door, so that it worked in the same scale. I didn’t have an existing storm door to match, so I took my design cues from the existing front door. My wife and I think that it works well. Good luck!

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