Architectural Monographs: Doorways in Old Charleston

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Not that anyone needs an excuse to visit the beautiful seaside city of Charleston, South Carolina, but strolling along those streets, you’ll get an ideal opportunity to check out some of the nation’s most beautiful historic architecture, including amazingly intricate doorways. This issue of the White Pine Series of Architectural Monographs takes us on a virtual tour of standout doorways, as they were in the 1910s.

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Charleston is an exceptionally charming city full of stately manors, spire-topped churches and old brick buildings, all in an unusual mix of English, French and West Indian building styles. While a devastating fire in 1886 destroyed many of the oldest structures, the city is still full of historic architecture, and each of these buildings has its own unique doorway reflecting the spirit of the builder or original owner.

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“The development of our Early American Architecture can be traced more clearly, and with less deviation from the true path, by its doorways, than through any other detail. For in the doorway, the index of the style of the house and its period are most clearly indicated. Charleston, South Carolina, offers some interesting examples that are in a way unique as to scheme and execution.”

See photos and read more about Old Charleston’s doorways at the White Pine Monograph library.

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.

White Pine Monographs Doorways 3

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.