The History of Dutch Doors

Many American adults have fond memories of Mr. Ed talking to Wilbur through a set of stable doors that opened at the top. The style of door is called the Dutch door and it’s been around since at least the 17th century. It’s an iconic design now found in many homes around the world.

The American colonies of New York and New Jersey were where the doors first gained popularity. The Dutch had settled there, bringing many customs and traditions with them. Though the Dutch style door was invented in Holland, it became a kind of cultural fixture most popular in America.

Part of the appeal was that the screen door hadn’t been invented yet. A set of Dutch doors could let some cool air into the kitchen while keeping out unwanted critters. Most people also lived on farms, so there were usually farm animals meandering around outside the home. The Dutch door would have let a mother cool the interior of the home, protect it from wildlife, and keep children safe where she could see them.

Dutch doors are basically two doors atop each other that independently move. Most doors require only two hinges to properly hang, but Dutch doors require four. This helps prevent the top and bottom halves from bending or warping under prolonged use. It’s also common to find Dutch doors with a kind of perch built into the door. This perch could be the source of the “pie cooling on the window sill” colloquialism so popular in American culture.

Today’s doors are mass produced, and generally fit one of a handful of sizes. Dutch doors of the past were made to fit the home that was built, so each one tells a unique story about the time the house was built.


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