Sarah Albee: Two Front Doors

From: Sarah Albee
August 15, 2012 at 04:43AM

I recently finished reading Daniel Woodrell’s novel, Winter’s Bone, a powerful story that takes place in the poverty-stricken, rural Ozarks. A passing descriptive detail caught my eye:

The low stone houses had short front porches and tall skinny windows. Most places still had two front doors [emphasis mine] in accordance with certain readings of Scripture, one door for men, the other for women, though nobody much used them strictly that way anymore.

I’d never heard of such a thing before. According to the “Ozark Vernacular Architecture” entry at the Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Architecture website, such houses were a traditional Ozark structure that started with a single pen house that was added onto. (I think by “pen” they mean room.)  A second pen was built onto the gable end. Sometimes the builders cut a doorway through the connecting wall, but sometimes they didn’t– and therefore two front doors were necessary. The site doesn’t speculate about Scriptural reasons for such architecture.

I’d love to know more about this idiosyncratic style. I couldn’t tell if Woodrell’s characters were Baptists, or Methodists, or possibly Pentacostals. In any case, the two-front-door architecture seems not to be limited to the Ozark area. The above picture is from a house in Texas. I have permission to use this picture, but if you Google-Image “two front doors” you can find lots of other examples.

Photograph from the Texas-Mexican Presbytery records at the Austin Seminary Archives, Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, Austin, Texas;

Posted on August 15, 2012, in Sarah Albee and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on Sarah Albee: Two Front Doors.

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