Until recently, I never heard of a house with two front doors. Whenever I have seen a home with two front doors, I naturally assumed it was a duplex or multi-family dwelling. A recent visit to a friend whose parents live in an old Texas farmhouse changed all that.

As strange as it sounds in a day of open floorplans and farmhouse sinks, double doors were a common feature in many older American homes built in the 18th and 19th Centuries.  There was even a name for these houses.  They were called "Dogtrot Houses". There were a number of reasons for this.

In earlier architectural styles, like the Georgian style, symmetry was very important. If a home for whatever reason didn't have a central hallway, having a center door threw off the symmetry. The fix was to add a second door.

Many homes of that era had two doors to provide separate entrances.  One entrance was formal, the other may have been used for day-to-day entries.

Another reason for double front doors in earlier days was the higher cost of windows. Glass used to be quite expensive. According to tasteofhome.com, residents who couldn't afford the glass in windows installed two front doors.

Because multiple doors were a sign that a home had multiple rooms. This was a sign of wealth. More doors were important to the status and curb appeal of many homes of the 18th and 19th Centuries.

Photo by Randy Fath on Unsplash
Photo by Randy Fath on Unsplash

For the Amish and Mennonites, two doors had a spiritual significance. Many believed that two doors, one an entrance, and one an exit, made it harder for "evil spirits" to get in.

There was also a morbid reason why many homes had two front doors. One of the doors was "the death door". In older times, many families did not take their dead relatives to funeral homes.

(Sarnico, Italy) - two wooden doors

They would lay out their deceased relatives for visitation in the front room of their homes.  The extra door allowed the soul to escape the bonds of Earth.  It also allowed neighbors a special entrance to come in and pay their last respects.

Finally, many southern homes have an additional front door that goes out to a front porch, rather than directly into the home. In New Orleans, many homes have two front doors, which were basically air ducts.  No one entered those doors.  There were separate doors on either end of Creole houses for entry.  As hot and sticky as New Orleans is, no doubt they needed all the ventilation they could get, especially before the invention of air conditioning.

Photo by Travel-Cents on Unsplash
Photo by Travel-Cents on Unsplash

They also make it easier to escape in case of fire. Fireplaces and open-air cooking often made that extremely useful.

Now that I know all this, I find the concept of double front doors fascinating.  No doubt, I will notice it more now that I know the significance. Do you know any homes here in San Angelo, with double front doors?

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