Walkabout with Montrose: Standing at the Door

Since the day man figured out how to roll a stone in front of his cave from the inside, we’ve had doors. Doors are security, doors are defensible. A doorway is the passageway from the outside into someone’s home, someone’s business, someone’s house of worship. In obvious, practical terms, it’s how you enter the building. But let’s go psychological and metaphorical here for a moment. A door is also your first impression as to the interior of the building. How that door looks, what it’s made of, the color, and the size, the hardware, the entire entranceway, all these elements also provide our subconscious with clues as to what the builder or owner would like you to think about them. Are you meant to be impressed with wealth, status, piety, thrift, cleanliness, security, or conversely, a lessening of circumstance, sloth, carelessness, or worst, a lack of taste? We speak of a doorway between life and death, the door to your heart. So, what does that door look like?

The photo essay today depicts some of the thousands of late 19th and early 20th century doors in Brooklyn. Most are from row houses, some from churches, banks, apartment buildings, private houses and the final doors for some well-heeled people – the mausoleum doors in Green-Wood Cemetery. Some doors feature gorgeous hardware that costs a fortune to replicate today, some of it goes unrestored and unnoticed by their owners and tenants. Some have ornate glass or impressive ironwork, or fantastically detailed wood carvings. Some doors are just massive, some hardly even noticeable in their elaborate framing. Some are classic, tall Victorian doors that instantly evoke a period feeling, others were deliberately designed to recall a far more distant time and place. Like the other detailing and ornament in Brownstone Brooklyn, doors are beautiful examples of the philosophy and mindset of a society that valued beauty along with practicality. There are no Home Depot doors here - take a look.

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