Oct. 22, 2015

With so many historical buildings on campus, repairing beautiful, handcrafted doors is a familiar challenge to our Facilities group. As part of an ongoing project, Facilities Operations and Special Projects recently replaced some of the well-used doors on Henry and Foulke halls.

Built in 1923, Henry and Foulke are fine examples of the collegiate gothic style. They feature amazing stonework and fabulous architectural details. The entry doors are great examples of those details. Crafted from solid oak, iron, and brass, the doors are about 4” thick and weigh hundreds of pounds each (about 100mm and 110kg). The beautiful ironwork on the doors was done by the studio of master blacksmith Samuel Yellin in Philadelphia.    

As one might imagine, the doors have experienced some wear and tear at the hands of the thousands of Princetonians who have passed through them since 1923. Facilities records indicate that the doors have been sanded and refinished over the years, but eventually the wood itself became significantly degraded, necessitating replacement.

Facilities Operations and Special Projects partnered with a company called Chautauqua Wood in Dunkirk, NY. Chautauqua Wood took the complete doors to their workshop and painstakingly re-created the wood parts in 1/4-sawn white oak as per the originals. The FSC-certified wood was stained to match and coated with a modern, durable, clear epoxy finish. The Yellin ironwork was removed and carefully refinished by a local (Dunkirk, NY) ironworks and then transferred to the new wood reproductions. The result is a beautiful, functional, modern door that appears historically accurate - and is ready for another 50 (or more) years of service.