frames that are inserted into an original opening should fit the
opening exactly in size and shape without adding filler panels.
(See Figure 4-23.)
When refinishing doors and doorframes, keep or recreate the
historic finish. Be particularly alert for the presence of fine
woods such a walnut, cherry, or mahogany. The doors and woodwork
in most late 19th century houses were stained and varnished, not
painted. Sometimes only the door was varnished, while the rest
of the woodwork was painted a solid color. However, some doors
were painted to look like wood grain or marble. Often these old
finishes can be restored by careful scraping. If the finish is
too far gone to save, it can be recreated by a skilled painter,
using the original finish as a guide. Whatever the original
finish may have been, do not dip strip historic doors. Chemical
baths weaken glued joints and veneer, destroy earlier finishes,
(See Figures 4-24, 4-25, 4-26,
and may damage the wood itself.
Some historic front exterior doors were secured with iron
bars on the inside. If these bars are still there, keep them and
use them if possible, rather than installing intrusive modern
Doors in new partitions should not be replicas of original
doors in the building and need not be reproductions of period
doors. However, they should be in sympathy with the spirit of
the building, using the same proportions and level of formality,
as well as similar woods and finishes. Modern flush-panel doors
are not suitable for use in historic buildings.
Transoms, fanlights, and sidelights add to the historical
character of the door or building. They should be kept and
reglazed if necessary. Do not replace them with filler panels.
Do not paint out glass on or around doors. Leaded, beveled, or
stained glass in fanlights and sidelights may need special
Check the condition of lead tames on ornamental
glass windows. If the tames are loose or glass is bowing,
repairs should be made by a specialist.
4.13 HARDWARE AND METAL WORK. When old or original hardware
exists on either the interior or the exterior of the building, it
should be kept and refurbished or repaired as needed.
Replacement hardware should reflect the period of the original
decoration, not contemporary design. Do not add modern hardware,
such as rim-mount deadbolts and other modern locks, to fine
original doors. Old hinges, locks, and door knobs often have
decorative finishes, such as carved surfaces. Some door hardware
is plated in silver, nickel, or a silvery alloy called German
silver. Old brass and bronze locks, hinges, and push plates, box
locks , and iron box locks with porcelain or glass knobs all
contribute to the character of historic buildings. Clean and
lacquer the hardware if it will not get frequent use or
polishing. Brass and bronze pieces that are frequently handled,