Many of Detroit’s downtown buildings, such as the Guardian, Buhl and Penobscot, have extraordinary entrances built out of marble, granite and other types of stone. Several of the archways and grand pillars feature inlaid Pewabic tile and intricate, carved stonework much like European Cathedrals. Handcrafted lighting fixtures illuminate the space between the sidewalk and brass-trimmed glass doors. Those beautiful, highly polished fixtures highlight the marble or terrazzo floors, leading the way in to the vintage 1920’s structures. In many cases, the doors themselves, whether they revolve or swing, feature spotless, high gloss brass push rails. A few feature intricate Art Deco or other elaborate designs of the period. Many of us have seen these amazing entrances downtown, but there are others we pass by and tend to overlook.
As I bicycle through Detroit’s diverse neighborhoods and once viable commercial strips, I’ve come upon some interesting and unusual doors. Some are old, weathered and rotted so bad that they are barely hanging in place. Others, such as security doors, are quite the opposite. Constructed of steel and fitted into a jam with less than a sixteenth inch gap anywhere, it would be quite impossible to pry open. A few have two or more locks, reinforced with steel plates and bars. Looking at others, it’s hard to tell how they open.
There are many painted doors throughout Detroit as well. Some are quite vivid, offering a stunning contrast to the surrounding wall or jam. In some cases, I’ve seen where artists have used a door as a “canvas” for their work. I’ve also spotted what appear to be, one-of-a kind, hand-made custom doors and doors on buildings that seem to be 100-plus years old. Steel grates and tightly woven mesh covering doors and entrances are quite common.
The mixture of doors found in the neighborhoods may not be as ornate and grand as those found on many of the buildings downtown, but they can be quite interesting in their own, unique way.