Architectural Monographs: Early American Doorways

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The doorways of colonial houses were the most ornamental part of virtually any exterior, and there can be a considerable variation from one home to the next. Eighteenth century houses in New England, particularly Massachusetts, feature beautifully wrought doorways typically carved from Eastern White Pine.

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Volume VII, Issue II of the White Pine Monographs details the different types of doorways seen in these homes. Written in 1921, this historical record provides photographs from that period of homes built from the late 1600s through the mid 1800s that are still standing today.

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The doorways featured in this issue are classed according to the simplicity of their design. Writes the author, “The subjects resolve themselves into two categories: those which are mere ornamental frontispieces, applied to the buildings, and those in which the more complex treatment of a doorway sheltered by a porch is used. The average Colonial house was a simple boxlike mass, relieved by decorative treatment of the door and cornice. The proportion of the mass, and the shape, placing and division of the windows were the only other features over which the builder had control to influence his design.”

Read more at the White Pine Architectural Monograph Library.