If You See a House with Two Front Doors, This Is What It Means

You're going to adore the possible explanations.

In the age of open floor concepts and farmhouse sinks, some design features from the past don’t make sense at first glance. We’re looking at you, card table closets and basement toilets. The same goes for houses with two front doors. Not a multi-family residence — a single-family home with separate front doors.

It might sound strange, but this feature exists in many American homes built in the 18th and 19th centuries! Here’s why.

Two Doors Made the Exterior Symmetrical

Back then, symmetry was in style. Georgian-style homes, trendy at the time, were designed around balance, order and classical symmetry. They often achieved that by using many windows, two chimneys and a front entry hallway that ran straight through the middle of the house.

If a home for whatever reason lacked this centered hallway, a centrally-placed front door threw things off. The easy fix? Add another door to keep things balanced.

“Old homes in the Georgian, Adams or Federal styles are built on rigid rules of symmetry,” writes Scott Sidler of The Craftsman Blog. “The front facade, especially, must be perfectly symmetrical. Sometimes rather than have a single door in the center of the house, two mirror image front doors gave not only a more pleasing design, but added utility.”

One Door Was Formal, the Other Was Not

It’s obvious, but two doors might have been in place to provide separate entrances to the home, opening to different spaces. While one door may have led to a formal area, the other could have been used for day-to-day business. This thinking applied to other visitors as well. Homeowners likely wanted to greet guests at a formal entrance.

Residents Couldn’t Afford Windows

Glass wasn’t cheap for early American settlers. It either had to be shipped all the way from Europe or made onsite, which was a specialty trade. Because windows used more glass than doors, it’s thought that residents who couldn’t afford the extra expense installed the latter. Find more old home features that appear across the country.

Here’s why some Southern houses have a separate porch door.

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Hannah Twietmeyer
Hannah is a writer and content creator based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, with a passion for all things food, health, community and lifestyle. She is a journalism graduate from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and a previous dining and drink contributor for Madison Magazine.