Exterior Doors

Doors are a very important, character-defining feature for a historic home. Until at least the 1960s, the primary material for doors in homes was wood. Metal doors could be found on commercial buildings, schools and churches, but usually not until after World War II. In many historic homes, the doors were taller or wider than they are today.

Most doors on historic structures were paneled rather than flat and frequently had windows. Windows could be very simple, plain glass, etched glass or stained and leaded glass. Usually, door glass was heavier than window glass and frequently beveled around the edges.

Secretary of the Interior's Standards State: Deteriorated historic features will be repaired rather than replaced. Where the severity of deterioration requires replacement of a distinctive feature, the new feature will match the old in design, color, texture, and, where possible, materials. Replacement of missing features will be substantiated by documentary and physical evidence. (Standard #6).


The coordinator may approve repairs to existing doors. Repairs may include stripping paint, glass replacement and locks. The commission must review any work, which changes the appearance of the door. Administrative approvals are also available for the replacement of non-original side or rear doors. Metal paneled doors may be approved on side or rear applications in such cases, though wood is preferred


Occasionally, a wooden door is too deteriorated to retain, or an inappropriate modern door is already in place. In that case, the commission must review the proposed replacement door.

  • If possible, a salvaged door of the same approximate age and style should be used.
  • The finish of the door shall be appropriate to the design of the building.
  • The primary or front door must be made of wood in an appropriate design. Metal paneled doors will be considered on the side and at the rear of a house.


Occasionally applications are received for complete door replacement to solve a security problem. A door is only as secure as its frame. Frequently a historic door in good repair – with a strong, well-built frame – is superior to a new door in an inadequate frame. Consideration should be given to reinforcing the frame, installing good quality locks and retaining the existing historic door. 


Front Doors and Front Storm Doors

Front storm doors may be reviewed and approved by the coordinator. The full commission must review all front primary door replacements.

Historic Preservation Standards: Front Doors

Side or Rear Doors and Storm Doors

Side or rear storm doors may be reviewed and approved by the coordinator. The full commission must review all door replacements.

 Historic Preservation Standards: Side and Rear Doors