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How Entrance Doors Evolved Over the Ages

February 9, 2018


If you have visited the Dream Doors and More showroom or taken time to browse our website, you know we have a thing about doors. Since you are reading this blog, we can assume that you do as well. This month we have dedicated this space to talking about how the exterior door evolved and why.

Let's start with the Neolithic structures from about 4,500 years ago that have been reconstructed at Stonehenge. Built from solid chalk daub walls with a wheat-straw thatched roof, the ancient dwellings had a single doorway that led to the interior space. It is believed the earliest Hazel Rod Doors were made by placing sticks lengthwise in patterns that would allow light and air in but keep intruders out, similar to what a screen door does today.

Although not a lot is known about the first solid front door, or when it was invented, the earliest recorded find was uncovered blocking the entrance to an Egyptian tomb. False doors were also commonly used in the interiors of tombs. These were Spiritual Doors believed to be a threshold between the world of the living and the dead. Often these false doors were carved from a single block of stone or plank of wood. As the door evolves in Ancient Rome, the Romans frequently painted a second door on the wall opposite a front entrance to achieve symmetry and make the open area seem larger than it really was. Single doors, double doors, triple doors, sliding doors and folding doors can be found in Ancient Rome and Greece architecture.

A Greek mathematician and inventor named Heron of Alexandria, who is best known for his work in mechanics, created the earliest known Automatic Door in the 1st century AD during the era of Roman Egypt. Around the same time in China, the Emperor Yang of Sui had the first foot-sensor activated door installed in his royal library. Hinged Doors that resemble those used on houses today, with hinges instead of pivot points, became popular during the Renaissance of the 12th Century. This era of the Middle Ages, which was marked by the continuation of the Crusades, saw the reinforcement of the front door with iron bars and locking mechanisms to keep intruders out.

The roots of the French Door can be traced back to 16th to 17th century, when France was at war with Italy. Since the Italian's Renaissance style of architecture placed emphasis on light, the French incorporated this form and pattern into their doors.  French architects discovered a window-like door, with glass panes extending the majority of door's height and width, provided perfect symmetry, proportion and illumination. Today, French doors are used to allow more light into an interior space as well as add elegance, beauty, and aesthetics to the home.

So, who built the biggest door in history? The four NASA Doors for the Vehicle Assembly Building at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida are the largest doors in the world. These were originally built to allow for the assembly of Apollo and Saturn vehicles and stand 456-feet high. If this quick trip through the history of the door got you thinking about upgrading your entrances, visit our website's DOOR STYLES page for ideas or submit the form on our VISUALIZE YOUR DOOR page for a sneak peek at what your new door would look like. For personalized customer service, visit our showroom at 5220 Shad Road, where our staff is happy to assist.