So often historic doors are replaced. You can find stacks of historic doors in architectural salvage shops. What do you do with salvaged doors? How about creating an entryway into a cafe, like this one in Wilmington.
Preservation ABCs is a series that will work its way from A to Z, bringing words into conversation that are relevant to historic preservation, whether it’s an idea, feature or vocabulary term. The idea is to help you see preservation everywhere you look and wherever you go. Enjoy! See previous letters.
D is for Door
Architectural styles are defined by all elements of a building, from siding to windows to shape to massing, ornamentation, details and doors. As much as preservationists discuss the negative effects of window replacements, door replacements are often overlooked, yet just as detrimental. Doors are replaced for a variety of reasons: security, fire codes, new locks, damage, updates, etc. It might seem that one opening of the entire building elevation would not have such an impact of the architectural integrity and the impression of a building, but when you consider the fact that doors are the entrances, the focal points, the main thoroughfare into a building, they begin to have more influence.
Imagine a 19th century house with original windows, clapboard siding and a brand new, vinyl door (the kind with the oval window, for example). The image doesn’t match, does it? Or sidelights and transoms blocked in when the door is changed. Door styles are part of architectural style. The number of panels in doors, the methods of construction, details of hardware, height of the doorknob, type of wood, overall size of the door, type of door surrounds, are all indicative of a particular time period and influence.
Think about historic storefronts with generic metal frames and glass doors, the same doors that you can find in any strip mall. It completely changes the feeling of entering a historic building, aside from the architectural design. When a door is replaced with an incompatible door, the historic integrity and therefore historic significance of a building suffers.
The next time you look at a building, look at the door. What do you think? Original? Replacement? Appropriate? Incompatible? Save the historic doors!
By Nicholas Bogosian
A Photo Diary of the Fall Quarter at Belmont Tech’s BPR program.
Metals class introduced us to the art of blacksmithing as well as the deterioration and preservation of various metals. Jeff Forster, guest instructor, owns a decorative ironworks and metal restoration business in Wheeling, WV.
Our Field Lab class in Morristown, OH gave us the opportunity to carry out sandstone foundation repairs. Improper face-bedding of the stone as well as the use of a Portland cement had caused some noticeable deterioration of the stone. The joints were repointed with an appropriate Virginia Lime Works mortar and one significantly damaged stone was given a plastic repair with a Jahn restoration product so that its cavernous face could be made sound again.
In Windows & Doors class, damaged sashes and sills were removed from an 1880s one-room schoolhouse in Pleasant Hill, OH for repairs back at our lab space. Repairs included documentation of conditions, wood consolidation, paint removal, and re-glazing. Our final project was the creation of a paneled door with traditional mortise and tenon joinery and raised panels.
Graining & Marbling Class introduced us to the art of faux painting. Projects included sample boards of various stones and wood species. Final projects involved the creation of a “Pietra Dura” panel or stone marquetry as well as a panel with a graining and marbling combination.
And finally, my advanced material science class, which I elaborated on in my last blog, involved the conservation of structural timbers. Various techniques were carried out, including: splices/ dutchmans, WER (wood epoxy reinforcement), as well as mechanical repairs.
All photographs courtesy of Nicholas Bogosian.
By Nicholas Bogosian
I have now reached the fifth quarter of my training at the Building Preservation & Restoration Program of Belmont Technical College. That’s five out of seven. I started this series at the beginning of my training with the intent of highlighting the trades function in the preservation of our built environment and as an open scrapbook of my experiences through the duration of the training. I am happy to say that the zeal I came into the process with hasn’t wavered a bit. Now the time has come to begin seeking out internships and think more forwardly about my place in the field.
I know, like most of my peers, that I find satisfaction in making an unhealthy structure healthy again. I enjoy even more knowing why it is healthier and why it was unhealthy in the first place. This maintenance ethic may seem concrete in our minds, but I bet most of the world doesn’t view maintenance as a technical skill, a science, or an art (or even a priority). The beauty of the craftsman is not only their ability to work with their hands – truthfully, their handiwork would have no value without the intellectual understanding of the materials they are working with.
It is not enough, however, to be proficient in the historic building trades (i.e. plastering, blacksmithing, masonry, timber framing, faux painting, etc.) A modern preservationist (or conservator, or preservation technician) must take their knowledge of these highly specialized professions and view the building holistically and understand the process of deterioration. What good is a plasterer’s handiwork in repairing cracks in a wall when significant differential settlement is taking place in the building? A preservation-sensitive structural engineer would do more good.
So I suppose the conservationist shares in the same delight of the chemist, in knowing something at its atomic and molecular level – to know something through and through.