Why Did Old Houses Have Two Front Doors?

Why Did Old Houses Have Two Front Doors

There are many different styles of homes spanning from the 18th to early 20th centuries, but some of them — especially between the 19th and early 20th centuries in particular — have two front doors.

If you’ve ever seen one of these old houses with two front doors, you might have wondered why two front doors are necessary. An additional back or side door makes sense, but it seems reasonable to only need one main entrance in the front.

Reasons Behind Having Two Front Doors

However, there are several reasons why old houses were designed with two front doors.


One of the reasons for having two front doors is simply the extra space it provides. In older houses, the first floor was often used as a public area for entertaining guests and hosting events. 

Two front doors allowed for a more open floor plan and didn’t make guests feel cramped when they came over.

Privacy & Separation From Staff

Another reason for the two front doors is privacy and separation. In many cases, one door was used as the main entrance, while the other door was used as a service entrance. 

This entrance allowed guests to come in and be welcomed into the home without worrying about them coming into contact with the servants.

Separate Rooms

Some houses were built to have separate rooms or living spaces on the first floor, and each had various purposes.

For example, one side of the house may be for play and entertainment, while the other may lead to an area for business and work. Or one door was the “formal” door, and the other was the “informal one.”

In this case, each door would be used to access a different side or room of the house.

Separate Upstairs Dwelling

Similar to having separate rooms or spacious downstairs, some houses would have two front doors because one would lead to the downstairs area. 

At the same time, another would immediately provide access to a separate upstairs dwelling. This particular entrance could be highly convenient, mainly if the upstairs living area was being used by someone who didn’t want to be bothered by guests downstairs.

Status and Prestige

The main thing the previous reasons for two separate front doors all have in common is that they all indicate some higher level of wealth and privilege.

If you need two doors, it’s either because you have lots of space, want to entertain guests, want a separate entryway for the staff, desire privacy, are engaged with business dealings, have a top floor, or a combination of these factors.

Because of this, having two front doors became a status symbol and a way to show off one’s wealth. Not everyone could afford the extra space or staff necessary to make two front doors practical, so it became a way to demonstrate that you had the means to do so.


The last potential reason for having two or more doors in front of the house was to be able to let the light come in from various angles.

Some old houses were constructed before electricity was standard in the home, starting in 1925. And some were even built before the lightbulb was invented in 1879. This lack of electrical lighting meant houses needed to be designed to make the most of natural lighting.


Like electrical lighting, air conditioning systems were not standard in homes until the late 20th century. 

Because of this, old houses needed to be designed to let in as much air and ventilation as possible. This was especially important in the summer months when the heat could become unbearable.

Two front doors allowed for cross-ventilation, which helped keep the house cooler.

Read More: Why Do Old Houses Have Windows Above Doors?

Frequently Asked Questions

If you live in an old home, are in the market for a home, or are simply a curious reader, you may have more questions about doors and old houses. Here are some commonly asked questions on the topic.

  • What is it called when you have two front doors?
    American houses built in the 19th and early 20th century with two front doors are typically called Dogtrot Houses. Dogtrot Houses get their name from the space between the two doors, often used as a place for dogs to rest and stay cool.
  • Why did old Victorian homes have two front doors?
    There are several possible reasons that old Victorian homes had two front doors. These include privacy, separate rooms, formality, status, and ventilation.
  • What is a milk door?
    A milk door is a small entrance near the kitchen used to receive milk deliveries. These openings were convenient so that people could store milk close to the kitchen without occupying the house.
  • Why do old houses have high ceilings?
    There are several possible reasons why old houses have high ceilings. These include the need for better ventilation, making the most of natural light, and making a space appear grander.
  • Why do old houses have two staircases?
    Old houses often have two staircases because they were designed to be symmetrical. This was seen as more aesthetically pleasing and demonstrated a higher level of wealth.
  • What is a servant's door?
    A servant's door is a separate entrance near the kitchen staff members' use. These doors were often smaller and less ornate than the main entrance to the house.
  • Why did old houses have big windows?
    Old houses often had large windows because they wanted to make the most of the natural light that came in through them, as they could not simply turn on lamps and overhead lights like we.
  • Final Thoughts

    As you can see, there are various answers to the question, “Why did old houses have two front doors?”

    While having two front doors may have seemed like a luxury to some, there were many practical reasons why old houses were designed with two front doors. 

    Two front doors served various purposes, from providing extra space to increasing privacy. And, of course, they also became a status symbol for those who could afford them.

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