Preservation Pop Quiz: Buena Vista, GA edition

It’s been a while since there’s been a Preservation Pop Quiz around these parts. This one is from my travels in Georgia. A group of us attended a local art opening in Buena Vista, GA. The opening took place in a historic building, though the drop ceiling and other modifications hid the original details of the building. But, like the preservationist that I am, I walked around the perimeter of the big room and looked up, staring at a particular corner for a while. Why was this door here and how did it function? I do have the answer to this one, but tell me your impressions first!

First up: the exterior of the building in Buena Vista, GA.

First up: the exterior of the building in Buena Vista, GA.

Storefront of the building.

Storefront of the building.

Exterior of the particular corner that perplexed me.

Exterior of the particular corner that perplexed me.

Interior space for the art opening. Note the fluorescent lights and drop ceiling.

Interior space for the art opening. Note the fluorescent lights and drop ceiling. Corner in question is on the right.

The interior corner, a door.

The interior corner, a door.

Bottom of the door.

Bottom of the door.

Looking up above the door.

Looking up above the door.

Looking up in the same area.

Looking up in the same area.

You can see the door, then the transom, then the ceiling.

You can see the door, then the transom, then the ceiling.

And another interesting feature of this building. Vents beneath the sidewalk.

And another interesting feature of this building. Vents beneath the sidewalk. (Unrelated to the quiz question.)

What do you think?

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10 thoughts on “Preservation Pop Quiz: Buena Vista, GA edition

  1. franbrz says:

    I feel like having another front door implies that it leads somewhere else in the building (somewhere not for customers), but it doesn’t look like it was a door to a living space or somewhere similar. I think this would depend on the original function of the building! We have lots of similar 19th-century commercial buildings in my town in Canada but I don’t think I’ve seen anything like this.

  2. Daniel says:

    Huh, I’m guessing that bit of cord in the 8th photo down has something to do with how it opened. I can’t see any hinges. For a minute I thought that it would pull up somehow, but the set-back of the panel from the outside, plus that brick that you can see at the lower-left-hand corner of the inside of it make me think that it must swing inward, with hinges hidden somewhere on the right-hand side. Hardly a guess, at all, but that’s the best I can do for now. Very curious to see how wrong I was!

  3. Chad says:

    I’m guesssin a loading truck would pull up, dump off its heavy load and the stuff would be pulled up to the second floor if need be.

  4. jane says:

    I assume it’s a door that slides up into the second floor, probably with a trap that opens, and was used to bring large items, goods for sale perhaps, into the building and maybe up to the second floor. The ceiling has been furred down, so that rectangular box was built to allow access to the mechanism that lifts the door.

    It’s quite hard to put the pieces together from the photographs, much easier in person. I may have mis- interpreted what I’m seeing. Looks to me as if there is a pull chain with nice porcelain handle in one picture.

    • Kaitlin says:

      Jane, you are correct on all counts. It’s hard to see in the photographs (I admit I didn’t take them with a quiz in mind) and the door slides up. I’ll give the full explanation soon. 🙂

  5. Morrie says:

    Building on previous comments, from photos looks like the ceiling above the door is really a portal of some sort that doubles as the floor when closed. It almost looks like it could be the platform of a crude lift that lowers and raises to, as others have said, bring product or materials up.
    It could also hinge to allow full access through th opening. Never seen anything like it. Thanks.

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