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18 Sep

Entry Door History – Time Travel Though Your Door

You use your home entry door every day.  It’s an integral a part of your daily life. You may not give it a second thought from one day to the next. But the doors you use every day have a rich and storied history. Doors have symbolized many things to different cultures, so, here’s a fun history lesson!

large ancient Egyptian sculpture

According to The History Of Doors: A Travel Through Time, the first recorded history of doors was found in Egyptian tomb paintings 4000 years ago. In ancient Egyptian architecture, a false door was a wall decoration that looked like a window, it was common in tombs and represented a gate to the afterlife. No one knows who actually invented the door, only that it was first developed somewhere in central Egypt.

large arched wooden and glass door surrounded by an old stone building

In the Middle Ages – approx. 5th to 15th Century – doors developed into a status symbol of wealth and prosperity. The more intricate the design, the more affluent the owner. According to Ancient Doors and Royalty: A Walk through Historic Door Designs, Greek and Roman Medieval doors integrated copper and alloys (Iron Entries!) in their designs and differing seals could stand for reputation, prestige, status, and wealth. Church and Cathedral doors were often lined with valuable metals, like gold and bronze, to mark the building as a sacred monument.  They were said to be fine metal artworks, as images of bronze and other metal temple doors show the intricacy of their designs.

photo of one of the gold sculpted panels from the "Gates of Paradise" by Lorenzo Ghiberti.
One of the panels from The Gates of Paradise by Lorenzo Ghiberti

Elaborate entry doors did not die with the Middle Ages. Elegant craftsmanship was at its finest during the Renaissance in the 16th and 17th century. This was a time of intellectual pursuits and the development of art by masters like Michelangelo and Da Vinci. A notable door during this era was designed by Artist Lorenzo Ghiberti. According to Architectural Digest, The Porta del Paradiso (or “Gates of Paradise”) have decorated the Baptistery of San Giovanni in Florence since 1452. Constructed from bronze with gold overlay, these Renaissance pieces feature 10 sculpted panels that reference scenes from the Old Testament.

Two sets of ornate Chinese double doors

If we’re talking about ingenuity, leave it to the Chinese to create the first foot-sensor-activated door during the reign of Emperor of Yang of Sui, ruling from 604 to 618. Chinese Temple doors had the most notable designs, since they were in vivid colors and had very detailed latticework.  The latticework depicted Chinese characters and myths, which are believed to bring luck and prosperity. Luck is a very important part of the Chinese tradition, not only in their use of symbols but also color. Red is considered a lucky color, so even their use of red on their entry doors was to provide luck and ward off evil. 

Frederick C. Robie House – Photo by James Caulfield. Image courtesy of Frank Lloyd Wright Trust.

We can’t forget about the more contemporary though! Architects such as Frank Lloyd Wright redefined what American entry doors look like today! Frank Lloyd Wright finished this famous house in Chicago in 1910, for which he designed both the structure and its furnishings (the structure was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2019). His use of glass added a more open, bright and welcoming feel to the modern home.

These beautiful and iconic doors are works of art in their own right.  Distinctive, decorative doors are meant to impress – and even inspire – those who cross their thresholds.  Entrances continue to be one of the main focuses when designing a space.  They make a statement about what lies inside.

If you want to incorporate history into your home, talk to us about an Iron Entry Door with customized intricate designs, elegant iron hardware, artisan glass and an array of powder coat choices and faux finish options.  Give us a call at 833-228-4438 today!