From a photograph by Solomon D. Butcher of four daughters of rancher Joseph M. Chrisman, at their sod house in Custer County, Nebraska. From left to right, Harriet, Elizabeth, Lucie, and Ruth. Photographed in 1886.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Door to Yesterday

Side entrance to an old building in Hopkinsville, KY





This door, a side entrance to one of Hopkinsville's 1880s buildings, probably opens to a staircase. Perhaps the merchant's family once lived above the store, or perhaps the space was rented.

The window above the door enhanced the airflow to the second floor in hot weather. I believe a window above the door like this is called a "transom window."

The metal awning is too high and short to provide much shelter for a person opening the door in the rain. It probably did prevent rain from coming through the transom window, if the wind wasn't strong. The awning was surely added sometime after the building's construction. I doubt if it dates back to the 1880s.

Update:
This doorway is a side entrance to the Klein Building, on the corner of 6th and Main Streets. The front of the building, as seen from 6th Street, is pictured below. The Alhambra Theater on Main Street is visible in the background. The main entrance of the Klein Building sits diagonally at the corner, behind the black post that's supporting the second floor.


The Klein Building in Hopkinsville, KY, was built in 1883.

4 comments:

ptg said...

The foundation has some quarry cut stones at the top with rough field stones below them. I wonder if there is an explanation for this. It seems odd to me.

Could the building have been a replacement for an even older one? The 1880's builders might have wanted to use that part of the old foundation that was still sound.
---
"I heard it over the transom." Before air conditioning (and even before electric fans) it wasn't uncommon for outside and inside doors to have transoms. One could stand in a hallway and 'eavesdrop' over the transom. The practice is often referenced in old detective novels.

Genevieve said...

You have an observant eye, PTG. I think it is very likely than an old foundation was reused.

On October 25, 1882, seven city blocks of the Hopkinsville business district burned, destroying "forty-five business houses, fifteen offices of professional men, three livery stables, one bank, the New Era and News offices, the post office, Cumberland Presbyterian Church, Mozart Hall, Central Hotel, and many of the finest buildings in the city." (Source: William Henry Perrin's 1884 history, County of Christian, KY, p.215))

Perin wrote that the fire was a blessing in disguise because of the new buildings built as a result, making Hopkinsville "a picture of beauty."

It's probably not a coincidence that this building with a side door (the Klein Building, across from the courthouse) was erected in 1883.

Bill Harper said...

What street is this building on, Genevieve? It reminds me of the entrance to my grandmother's restaurant which she operated behind the grocery store owned by my great-grandparents. I know the building was between Virginia Street and Main street but I don't remember which side street it was on ( 2nd, 3rd, 4th ? ). It was about half a block down one of those streets from the Alahambra Theater.

Genevieve said...

I updated the post with the info about where the building is located. It sits on the northeast corner of 6th street, You can see the Alhambra theater in the background of the new photo I added at the end of the post.

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