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Old 11-07-2012, 06:44 AM
ThelmaLou ThelmaLou is online now
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Craftsman style house- "Gentleman's Door"?

There are are a lot of Craftsman style homes in my Texas neighborhood. Mine is from the 1930's. They have boxy, four-square floor plans and are quite charming. Many of them have a door that exits to the outside directly from the master bedroom. An architect friend of mine says that's called a "Gentleman's Door." He says it's so the Gentleman or Gentlemen can leave discreetly without going back through the main part of the house.

I said, "Where are they going?" He just shrugged and said, "Out."

So you have a front door and a kitchen/backdoor, and the master bedroom, which is one of the squares of the four-square, extends out just enough for a single door/exit on the side of the house, right into the driveway.

Has anyone ever heard of this explanation for that door? And if so, where are those Gentlemen going? Out to smoke, gamble, pee? Presumably if he's leaving a woman in bed, she'll notice that he's going. Maybe it was so a man could arrive and leave without a servant having to let him in and out the front door? Many of these houses, including mine, have servants quarters (just a small bedroom and bathroom) next to the garage.

Not sure if this is the correct forum. Move if necessary.
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Old 11-07-2012, 07:45 AM
Musicat Musicat is offline
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A lady never asks.
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Old 11-07-2012, 09:31 AM
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My first thought when you said "Gentleman's Door" was that it was to accommodate the whims of the lady of the house--her suitor could scoot out if necessary.

But, I doubt that was part of the culture back then.....

I love craftsman architecture and have lived in a few houses like that, but I've never seen or heard of this door. Interesting inquiry.
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Old 11-07-2012, 09:39 AM
Omar Little Omar Little is offline
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It's not so they could leave discreetly, it was so they could return discreetly. When husbands were out with the guys and coming home late at night, this allowed them come into their house directly into their bedroom, without potentially waking up the kids etc.
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Old 11-07-2012, 09:46 AM
ThelmaLou ThelmaLou is online now
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Originally Posted by Musicat View Post
A lady never asks.
I guess that tells you everything you need to know about me...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Omar Little View Post
It's not so they could leave discreetly, it was so they could return discreetly. When husbands were out with the guys and coming home late at night, this allowed them come into their house directly into their bedroom, without potentially waking up the kids etc.
Now THAT makes sense! You are so danged smart! Thanks.
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Old 11-07-2012, 11:14 AM
aceplace57 aceplace57 is offline
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My grandad got up and went for coffee every morning at 5:30. Visit with his friends and go to work in the oil fields. He still did that after retiring, except he'd come home by 7. Grandmother still snoozing away in bed.

A door directly off the bedroom would have been convenient to avoid going through the house.

Last edited by aceplace57; 11-07-2012 at 11:16 AM.
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Old 11-07-2012, 11:20 AM
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A lady never asks.
And neither does a gentleman.
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Old 11-07-2012, 11:50 AM
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just a small question, what is a "Craftsman style home" ?
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Old 11-07-2012, 12:01 PM
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Craftsman Style Homes. There's one that looks almost exactly like that picture a few blocks away from where I work.
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Old 11-07-2012, 12:05 PM
aceplace57 aceplace57 is offline
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usually small bungalow, porches with stone or brick columns. Inside you'll find built-in cabinetry and lots of gorgeous fine wood molding.

Nice photo at this link. Small homes that have incredible details in them.
http://thelcn.com/2009/10/01/inside-.../#.UJqTsGei9K0
Quote:
The philosophy of bungalow design and specifically in the Arts and Crafts style– beauty and simplicity – appealed to them.
The one-story home has a gentle roof pitch, overhanging eaves, natural woodworking on the interior, and a wide front porch covered by the main roof, all typical attributes of a bungalow style home.

Last edited by aceplace57; 11-07-2012 at 12:06 PM.
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Old 11-07-2012, 12:21 PM
aceplace57 aceplace57 is offline
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Thelmalou, does that bedroom door go out to a wrap around porch? I can see how nice it would be to enter the bedroom directly off a porch. Or sit out there for coffee in the mornings.

If it goes directly into the yard then... I'm not sure why the door is there.

Last edited by aceplace57; 11-07-2012 at 12:22 PM.
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Old 11-07-2012, 12:32 PM
jasg jasg is offline
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Perhaps it was so that the gentleman of the house could return from the saloon without interrupting the WCTU meeting in the front parlor.
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Old 11-07-2012, 01:06 PM
ThelmaLou ThelmaLou is online now
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Originally Posted by aceplace57 View Post
Thelmalou, does that bedroom door go out to a wrap around porch? I can see how nice it would be to enter the bedroom directly off a porch. Or sit out there for coffee in the mornings.

If it goes directly into the yard then... I'm not sure why the door is there.
The Gent's Door goes down some steps right to the driveway on the side of the house.

There is a front porch also... in the front.
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Old 11-07-2012, 01:27 PM
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Perhaps it was so that the gentleman of the house could return from the saloon without interrupting the WCTU meeting in the front parlor.
That gets my vote.
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Old 11-07-2012, 01:33 PM
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Perhaps it was so that the gentleman of the house could return from the saloon without interrupting the WCTU meeting in the front parlor.
That's exactly what my suspicion was; the only reason I could come up with for the man of the house needing to avoid the entry or dining areas would be because of guests that he was politely trying to avoid.
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Old 11-07-2012, 03:13 PM
sidecar_jon sidecar_jon is offline
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Craftsman Style Homes. There's one that looks almost exactly like that picture a few blocks away from where I work.
ah thanks to aceplace57 too. i did not know anything about the US "Arts and crafts" movement. Shameful as i make arts and crafts sort of things!..thanks !

" Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful. as William Morris said..
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Old 11-07-2012, 08:56 PM
sich_hinaufwinden sich_hinaufwinden is offline
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My grandad got up and went for coffee every morning at 5:30. Visit with his friends and go to work in the oil fields. He still did that after retiring, except he'd come home by 7. Grandmother still snoozing away in bed.

A door directly off the bedroom would have been convenient to avoid going through the house.
Maybe I'm just not following but what is the benefit to avoid going through the house. Every place I've ever lived, the exterior doors are far noisier to open/close than the interior doors. And I don't know who might have been living with your grandparents at that age, but I can imagine the interior bedroom door not even being closed if no one else was there. Why not leave and return to the bedroom silently through the interior door if your grandmother was still asleep rather than opening and closing an exterior door coming and going?
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Old 11-07-2012, 09:14 PM
Slithy Tove Slithy Tove is offline
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Total WAG, but back then people died and also gave birth, including stillbirth, at home. Something to do with situations where genteel folk wouldn't want traffic through the front parlor or the kitchen?
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Old 11-07-2012, 11:48 PM
ThelmaLou ThelmaLou is online now
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The gentleman's door is a small door from the master bedroom directly to outside the house. This is a one story house. Coming and going through that door wouldn't disturb anyone, probably not even the woman in the bed. Also, if there was a servant, the coming and going would be done without her knowledge.

Here's the floor plan. You can see the door off the master bedroom, top right.

This is a quirky layout, but I love it!

Last edited by ThelmaLou; 11-07-2012 at 11:49 PM.
  #20  
Old 11-07-2012, 11:55 PM
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It's so the dude can go piss in the yard, shake off and return to bed without awakening the Missus.
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Old 11-08-2012, 02:45 AM
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I think there might be some confusion in this thread about Victorian houses and Craftsman houses. While the Craftsman movement started during the tail end of the Victorian era, most of the Craftsman houses date from the from the mid-1910's through the early-1930's. Unlike most surviving Victorian houses which were upper class dwellings, the Craftsman houses were more middle class (albeit often upper middle class).

So with that in mind, the middle class post-Victorian people who were the Craftsman houses' original occupants weren't usually pissing in the yard, giving birth at home, having servants, or sneaking off to the saloon/brothel. Or at least it wasn't condoned to a degree that one would build an architectural feature around it, although I wouldn't put it past the Victorians a generation earlier. The generation of people who lived in the Craftsman houses were sort of the prototype for the post-war middle class and wouldn't have seemed so different in habits and sensibilities. That's part of why the houses have stood up so well to modern architectural tastes, both practical and aesthetic.
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Old 11-08-2012, 07:22 AM
ThelmaLou ThelmaLou is online now
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Originally Posted by GreasyJack View Post
I think there might be some confusion in this thread about Victorian houses and Craftsman houses. While the Craftsman movement started during the tail end of the Victorian era, most of the Craftsman houses date from the from the mid-1910's through the early-1930's. Unlike most surviving Victorian houses which were upper class dwellings, the Craftsman houses were more middle class (albeit often upper middle class).

So with that in mind, the middle class post-Victorian people who were the Craftsman houses' original occupants weren't usually pissing in the yard, giving birth at home, having servants, or sneaking off to the saloon/brothel. Or at least it wasn't condoned to a degree that one would build an architectural feature around it, although I wouldn't put it past the Victorians a generation earlier. The generation of people who lived in the Craftsman houses were sort of the prototype for the post-war middle class and wouldn't have seemed so different in habits and sensibilities. That's part of why the houses have stood up so well to modern architectural tastes, both practical and aesthetic.
I won't quibble with what you're saying...so what do you think is the purpose of the Gentleman's Door?

This house does have servant's quarters, or if you prefer, a " maid's room" at the back for live-in help. This IS the South, and a family in this neighborhood in the 1930's would have had a live-in "girl."
  #23  
Old 11-08-2012, 07:44 AM
Sigene Sigene is offline
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I've seen these before.

I think functionally, its easier to get to and from the car to go through this door as opposed to using the other ones. I think it might be there just for convenience (laziness), and not for any other contrived reason.
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Old 11-08-2012, 10:30 AM
ThelmaLou ThelmaLou is online now
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Buzz-kill.

I'd rather find a colorful, romantic, cool, interesting contrived reason.
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Old 11-08-2012, 10:33 AM
Dendarii Dame Dendarii Dame is offline
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The Eppes family in the TV show Numb3rs lived in a Craftsman house, a fact they frequently mentioned. In the episode, "Two Daughters", the father, Alan, asked his son Charlie (who'd bought the house from him) to add what sounds exactly like a "Gentleman's Door", although he didn't use that term. This door was never mentioned again.

Since earlier in the episode Alan had been considering moving out, I figured that he wanted it for additional privacy.
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Old 11-08-2012, 11:34 AM
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I think I'd feel better sleeping in a room without a door to the outside.
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Old 11-08-2012, 12:05 PM
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There is another use for such a door which, as related by Paul Simon, is to "slip out the back Jack."
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Old 11-08-2012, 12:35 PM
Sandra Battye Sandra Battye is offline
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Another buzz-kill: I think it serves the same function as a sliding glass door or a plantation door in a bedroom does. Provides egress to the outside. The only part "strange" to me is that it leads to a side yard/driveway, rather than to a backyard or deck.
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Old 11-08-2012, 12:35 PM
TruCelt TruCelt is offline
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I've always thought it was called that because the gentleman was more likely to come home dirty, and need to clean up before dinner or greeting any guests. The polite fiction being that he'd been out hunting or somesuch, but the truth being that even many middle-class jobs in those days were quite dirty.

This allowed him to strip near the door and get to the bathroom without making a mess in the front parlor.

Functionally though, they are generally used to let the dog out first thing in the morning.

ETA: All the ones I've seen led to the back yard.

Last edited by TruCelt; 11-08-2012 at 12:37 PM.
  #30  
Old 11-08-2012, 12:59 PM
Amateur Barbarian Amateur Barbarian is offline
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ETA: All the ones I've seen led to the back yard.
Given the age of the house, is it possible the door used to open to a different setting? Did a driveway or garage get built that changed the use of the plot?
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Old 11-08-2012, 02:22 PM
t-bonham@scc.net t-bonham@scc.net is offline
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I don't know if it was designed for this, but this door would allow the wife to quickly slip her paramour out the "Gentleman's" door if her husband came home unexpectedly.
Or the husband to do the same with his mistress.
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Old 11-08-2012, 02:27 PM
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I don't know if it was designed for this, but this door would allow the wife to quickly slip her paramour out the "Gentleman's" door if her husband came home unexpectedly.
Or the husband to do the same with his mistress.
Let's hope they don't meet on the way in and out.
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Old 11-08-2012, 02:34 PM
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One thing I've found out from a page linked to that Wikipedia page - you could order houses in the mail from Sears! That's amazing.
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Old 11-08-2012, 03:27 PM
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One thing I've found out from a page linked to that Wikipedia page - you could order houses in the mail from Sears! That's amazing.
Assembly not included. Batteries neither.
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Old 11-08-2012, 04:13 PM
ThelmaLou ThelmaLou is online now
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One thing I've found out from a page linked to that Wikipedia page - you could order houses in the mail from Sears! That's amazing.
I have a catalog of those houses. The wood arrived on a railroad car. Everything was numbered. Many of those houses are still standing.
  #36  
Old 11-08-2012, 04:15 PM
ThelmaLou ThelmaLou is online now
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I don't know if it was designed for this, but this door would allow the wife to quickly slip her paramour out the "Gentleman's" door if her husband came home unexpectedly.
Or the husband to do the same with his mistress.
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Originally Posted by carnivorousplant View Post
Let's hope they don't meet on the way in and out.
This reminds me of a line from Master and Commander--the Captain (can't remember his name-- played by Russell Crowe) and his first officer are enjoying drinks, and the Captain offers a toast, "To our wives and sweethearts-- may they never meet!"
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Old 11-08-2012, 04:35 PM
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This reminds me of a line from Master and Commander--the Captain (can't remember his name-- played by Russell Crowe) and his first officer are enjoying drinks, and the Captain offers a toast, "To our wives and sweethearts-- may they never meet!"
Jack Aubrey.
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Old 11-08-2012, 05:15 PM
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My house was built in 1930. Sort of a Queen Anne/Craftsman mix. Very nice. 2 story, which is different but we do have winter in Ohio, which might explain this. Master bedroom and enormous bathroom upstairs (with salon/baby room!). Lots of built-ins and a fireplace, no huge porch. The realty listing was "bungalo".
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Old 11-08-2012, 07:28 PM
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Here's the floor plan.
Am I missing something or does this house have only one bedroom?
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Old 11-08-2012, 07:37 PM
Dana Scully Dana Scully is offline
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I think there might be some confusion in this thread about Victorian houses and Craftsman houses. While the Craftsman movement started during the tail end of the Victorian era, most of the Craftsman houses date from the from the mid-1910's through the early-1930's. Unlike most surviving Victorian houses which were upper class dwellings, the Craftsman houses were more middle class (albeit often upper middle class).

So with that in mind, the middle class post-Victorian people who were the Craftsman houses' original occupants weren't usually pissing in the yard, giving birth at home, having servants, or sneaking off to the saloon/brothel. Or at least it wasn't condoned to a degree that one would build an architectural feature around it, although I wouldn't put it past the Victorians a generation earlier. The generation of people who lived in the Craftsman houses were sort of the prototype for the post-war middle class and wouldn't have seemed so different in habits and sensibilities. That's part of why the houses have stood up so well to modern architectural tastes, both practical and aesthetic.

Jack, thank you for your interesting and informative post.
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Old 11-08-2012, 08:01 PM
BMalion BMalion is offline
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Am I missing something or does this house have only one bedroom?
The study was usually turned into a bedroom for those with kids.
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Old 11-08-2012, 08:17 PM
ThelmaLou ThelmaLou is online now
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Am I missing something or does this house have only one bedroom?
Technically it has two bedrooms. The front room has a closet, so it qualifies as a bedroom, but I plan to use it as an office/study.
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Old 11-08-2012, 08:26 PM
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Originally Posted by GreasyJack View Post
I think there might be some confusion in this thread about Victorian houses and Craftsman houses. While the Craftsman movement started during the tail end of the Victorian era, most of the Craftsman houses date from the from the mid-1910's through the early-1930's. Unlike most surviving Victorian houses which were upper class dwellings, the Craftsman houses were more middle class (albeit often upper middle class).
That is interesting, thank you.
Some of the homes in the Hillcrest area in Little Rock are craftsmen, and upper middle class would explain why they are generally together and some distance from the wealthy and poor areas of the neighborhood.
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Old 11-08-2012, 08:47 PM
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Back in the day, there were many families with extended members living with them. The "gentleman's door" allowed an adult child to come and go with a bit of privacy, an elder member to entertain guests or have the doctor in (back when doctor's still made housecalls) without going through the rest of the house.

If the house is solidly middle class (like many bungalows), many times, a room was let to help out with the budget.

My grandparent's home, although not a Craftsman, was built in that era and had a half bath and an outside door in the master bedroom. When they were raising their family, my grandfather's mother had that room. The half bath was there because, in later years, she was a semi-invalid and the outside door was used by the church ladies paying their calls to her. After she passed, my grandparents took over the room.

The home where I grew up was of much older vintage, but in the upstairs, there is a window that was a door when my parents bought the place. The two bedrooms that my sisters and I had had were in actuality, a bed-sitter and at one time, rented out (I found this out from our elderly next door neighbors, who rented those rooms as newlyweds).

Last edited by missred; 11-08-2012 at 08:48 PM.
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Old 11-08-2012, 09:26 PM
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The two bedrooms that my sisters and I had had were in actuality, a bed-sitter and at one time, rented out (I found this out from our elderly next door neighbors, who rented those rooms as newlyweds).
Cool.
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Old 11-08-2012, 09:31 PM
BMalion BMalion is offline
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My house was built in 1930. Sort of a Queen Anne/Craftsman mix. Very nice. 2 story, which is different but we do have winter in Ohio, which might explain this. Master bedroom and enormous bathroom upstairs (with salon/baby room!). Lots of built-ins and a fireplace, no huge porch. The realty listing was "bungalo".
and 2.5 baths.
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Old 11-08-2012, 10:17 PM
Chronos Chronos is online now
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Wouldn't the bedroom get rather drafty, with a door directly to the outside? Especially if anyone is actually going in and out the door?
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Old 11-08-2012, 10:31 PM
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Wouldn't the bedroom get rather drafty, with a door directly to the outside? Especially if anyone is actually going in and out the door?
Yes. But, who cares? Break out the extra blankets.
  #49  
Old 11-09-2012, 07:22 AM
ThelmaLou ThelmaLou is online now
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Originally Posted by missred View Post
Back in the day, there were many families with extended members living with them. The "gentleman's door" allowed an adult child to come and go with a bit of privacy, an elder member to entertain guests or have the doctor in (back when doctor's still made housecalls) without going through the rest of the house.

If the house is solidly middle class (like many bungalows), many times, a room was let to help out with the budget.

My grandparent's home, although not a Craftsman, was built in that era and had a half bath and an outside door in the master bedroom. When they were raising their family, my grandfather's mother had that room. The half bath was there because, in later years, she was a semi-invalid and the outside door was used by the church ladies paying their calls to her. After she passed, my grandparents took over the room.

The home where I grew up was of much older vintage, but in the upstairs, there is a window that was a door when my parents bought the place. The two bedrooms that my sisters and I had had were in actuality, a bed-sitter and at one time, rented out (I found this out from our elderly next door neighbors, who rented those rooms as newlyweds).
I love this kind of background! Thank you so much!

Neither the master, nor the front bedroom has its own bathroom, but you can see from the floor plan that the abundance of doors makes it possible for denizens of either room to get to the bathroom without going through the public parts of the house.
  #50  
Old 11-09-2012, 10:28 AM
Springtime for Spacers Springtime for Spacers is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ThelmaLou
This reminds me of a line from Master and Commander--the Captain (can't remember his name-- played by Russell Crowe) and his first officer are enjoying drinks, and the Captain offers a toast, "To our wives and sweethearts-- may they never meet!"
Jack Aubrey.
Which brings to mind the old joke:

Two gents spy two ladies walking toward them.

First gent: I say there comes my wife and my mistress.

Second gent: I was just about to say the same thing!

Last edited by Springtime for Spacers; 11-09-2012 at 10:29 AM.
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