Winter Entrances

January thaw, you were nice while you were here in Vermont. Now we welcome February and the returning cold, snowy weather. Speaking of cold, opening an exterior door in the winter can rush in waves of freezing weather aside from the snow our boots track in the doors. In these cold climate states, winter is beautiful but often messy. Living in Vermont I’ve noticed exterior winter preparations that I haven’t seen elsewhere, whether New York or North Carolina. Most of us remove screens, put on or pull down storm windows, turn off the outside faucets, bring in fair weather plants, add water hog mats at our fronts doors, and keep shovels at hand.

Montpelier, VT. The entire hooded entrance is removed in the warm weather.

Montpelier, VT. The entire hooded entrance is removed in the warm weather. The fanlight and sidelights of the entrance match those on this historic building. Historic integrity remains intact.

In Vermont, winter preparations go to another level. Lately I’ve noticed that many buildings have temporary winter entrance enclosures (see above). Rather than an open porch, a hooded, walled entrance can be installed on a building. This will provide energy savings, as well allow for less cleaning – take those boots off at the entrance! The Montpelier entrance is a good example of preserving historic integrity, even in the cold weather. Perhaps a good suggestion for residences and businesses. Have you seen any winter entrances where you live? Or other winter preparations?

Middlebury, Vermont

Middlebury, VT. This actually is on the building year round, but it reminded me of the Montpelier example. Anyone from Middlebury? How is this different than it used to be? (This is not a quiz; it’s actually a question.)


Gut it? No Way.

Do you ever browse the New York Times real estate section slide shows? I find them endlessly entertaining, whether it’s for the purpose of gazing at beautiful houses I’ll never afford, gawking at monstrosities that I would never want to afford or own, loving historic, rehabilitated or renovated houses in neighborhoods across the country, or just feeding general curiosity of what homes look like on the inside. So when a slide show entitled “In Need of Some Work” appeared for apartments in New York, it sounded interesting. There is an accompanying article, “For the Right Price, the Right Fixer-Upper” by Elizabeth A. Harris (1o.30.2009).

As I’m reading the captions and looking at the photographs I saw some less-than contemporary improvements like wall-to-wall carpeting and wood accordion doors. There were some wonderful features like 1930s sinks and tile bathroom floors. Classic. But, wait – those captions kept referring to the kitchens and bathrooms needed to be gutted. What!? Sure, the kitchens needed to be upgraded in terms of appliances, but why get rid of a sink full of historic character and definition? Take this statement from slide 24, “The kitchen, which also looks “prewar,” needs a total overhaul.” Excuse me? Why is “prewar” given the connotation of something horribly out of style? Some people like that look. I would love a prewar kitchen.

And I’m not saying that everyone has to love that. Maybe some people like those accordion doors, too. That’s great because we all have different tastes. But why is there this judgment on everything just because it’s old? Call it a fixer-upper, but don’t assume that everyone will want to toss away the prewar kitchen or the bathroom floor. See, how cool is that prewar kitchen? Check it out at Levittown, PA: Building the Suburban Dream.


The "Prewar" Kitchen