When Henry Ford introduced the Model T automobile in October of 1908, he didn't just revolutionize transportation, he created a need for garages and garage door hardware. Automobiles replaced horse-drawn carriages and Americans began converting carriage houses to garages to protect their prized automobile. Within a few years, garages became a standard feature of house designs.
Like the Model T, early garages were mostly simple and utilitarian. The first garages were usually single car. If a garage had multiple bays, each bay would have its own doors. Garages of the time were detached from the home because gasoline stored in the garage created a fire hazard. The fire hazard was eventually alleviated by the propagation of filling stations that eliminated the need to store gas in the garage. By the 1920s, garages were connected to the home by covered breezeways or pergolas and today are fully integrated into the floor plan.
The swinging carriage house doors found on carriage houses of the Victorian era continued to be the most popular door for garages of the early 20th Century. Swing out carriage house doors have two hinged doors that open outward like a pair of French doors. Carriage house doors were constructed of wood, which made them quite heavy. Strap hinges were required to support the weight of the door. Each carriage house door had a door handle to open it. A slide bolt or tower bolt may also have been used to secure the garage. Antique carriage house door hardware and garage door hardware usually coordinated with exterior door hardware and exterior lighting. Black hand-forged iron carriage house door hardware was popular for Victorian, Mission, and Tudor style homes while handcrafted copper and bronze garage door hardware was favored for Arts & Crafts bungalows.
The sectional overhead garage door (or "roll-up" garage door) began to appear in the 1920s. The overhead garage door was popular because it eliminated space constraints caused by door swing, operational problems caused by imbalanced hinges, and the need to remove obstructions (such as snow) that prevented the door from swinging open. Sectional overhead garage doors also eliminated much of the hardware that was required for carriage house doors.
While sectional overhead garage doors still dominate today, garage door builders started integrating carriage house details into overhead garage doors around the turn of the 21st Century. Decorative rails, stiles, and diagonal braces were added to roll-up garage doors to mimic vintage carriage house doors. Garage door hardware such as door handles, slide bolts, and dummy strap hinges (or "hinge fronts") lend authenticity to give modern sectional overhead doors a swing out carriage house door appearance.
Shop 4 Classics offers a complete catalog of antique reproduction strap hinges, dummy strap hinges, slide bolts, tower bolts, and door handles to complete the restoration of vintage carriage house doors or to replicate their look on a modern sectional overhead door.