A Tale of Two (Historic) Doors

Versatile recently had the pleasure of working with Pink Martini’s Thomas Lauderdale and his partner Phillip Iosca to repair and restore the two 135 year old doors on the front of the historic building that once housed a picture frame factory and now provides both living space for Phillip and Thomas and rehearsal space for Pink Martini.

Here’s the tale of these intriguing doors and the uniquely Versatile solutions that helped prepare them for their next 135 years.

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Why was Versatile called?

Versatile was called to the case following a very unfortunate break in at the building that not only resulted in the loss of several computers, it resulted in broken glass and significant crowbar damage to the doors. After 135 years of faithful service, it was time to return these doors to a better state of repair.

What made the doors unusual/challenging?

At 115″ tall (9 1/2 feet), these doors provided a unique challenge simply because of their height. They had also survived the flood of 1894, so almost every measurement of the doors and the jamb was slightly warped or out of square. For example, there was a 7/16″ difference in width from the door’s top to its bottom.

Another unusual feature of the doors was the use of  a”gunstock” stile. These long thin exterior edge panels angle in at the bottom, making their shape resemble a rifle stock. Typical of the Victorian era, these stiles were designed to maximize the width of the glass in the upper portion of the window while still allowing for maximum strength and stability in the lower portion of the door.

What did Versatile do to refurbish the doors?

harker building drawing

The doors needed to be completely stripped and refinished. The glass needed to be replaced and some of the wood near the locking mechanism needed to be replaced and repaired. The handles and hardware also needed to be replaced with hardware that would increase security while being consistent with the period and style of the doors.

Here are some pictures of the restoration in process:

Iosca Door 12.20.12

One intriguing facet of the repair? A metal detector uncovered over 40 screws embedded and hidden under multiple coats of paint that were evidently used to repair a previous crack in the wood.

Iosca Door c 12.20.12

The Uniquely Versatile Solution: It would have been simpler to replace many elements of the door with new reproduction elements. Instead, Versatile respected the history of the door’s original materials, retaining and restoring as much of the original wood and detail as possible. A new lever handle and updated locking mechanism improved the security of the door while staying true to its Victorian aesthetics.

You can check out the restored doors (and the beautiful home and office space they protect) on the Architectural Heritage Center’s upcoming Heritage Home Tour, July 27th from 10 am to 4 pm. Get details and tickets here.

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