When remodelling an older home, old house lovers recognize that one of the tell tale characteristics of an old house are the solid, multi paneled doors. Vintage doors add authenticity to a old house restoration, and are definitely worth the search.
When we remodeled our circa 1880 home several years ago, we were lucky to discover in one of our barns all the home’s old doors that had been removed in the 1940s. For us, it was a cake walk to return the doors back to their original locations. Unfortunately, this kind of luck usually doesn’t happen for most old house lovers who have search high & low to find the right doors for their home. Those old doors are out there, but it takes looking in these unusual places.
Years ago, people didn’t throw out things like they do today, and tended to store things in the attic or an out building to use at some point in the future. Farm auctions are one place to find old house doors and other old house stuff as grand kids muck out Grandpa’s barns to make room for things like a brand new John Deere tractor.
Farm auctions are listed in the classified section of your local newspaper and unlike yard sale ads, tend to have a pretty descriptive list of the inventory being auctioned.
If your community has a older historic district, this may be the place to snap up some great doors at yard and estate sales. In our community, doors and other old house parts often turn up at yard sales as a result of a renovations or remodels.
Freecycle.com is a place where people give away all kinds of good stuff for free in hopes of keeping it out of the landfill. In our area, old house parts such as doors, cabinets, and hardware show up on freecycle.com on a regular basis. You can sign up for your regional chapter of freecycle by visiting freecycle.com.
Old house restoration yards or salvage yards are another great place to find great old doors. These places are in the business of salvaging usable construction materials, trims, moldings, and fixtures from tear downs, which they sell “as is”. Old house salvage yards can be found in the yellow pages of your phone book under “salvage yards”.
Construction recycling centers
Similar to a salvage yard, construction recycling centers are a slightly more upscale salvage operation that supports green housing practices through recycling. The construction recycling center in our town collects surplus construction material and usable doors, windows, fixtures, and other items that were removed from older homes. A recent trip to our local recycling center turned up cool vintage doors, vintage light fixtures, and circa 1940s and 1950s bathroom sinks along with piles of other great stuff. To find a construction recycling center in your community, check the yellow pages under “recycling” or “construction materials.”
When all else fails……
If you’ve struck out in your own community for antique doors, there are a number of places on-line that sell vintage doors at prices that are comparable in price to contemporary doors. Some places to check include:
Architectural Antiquities at www.archantiquities.com
Toledo Architectural Artifacts at www.coostuffiscoolstuff.com
Old house web at www.oldhouseweb.com