The Tall and The Short of It

Jan 1, 2012 | 1 comment

Hall Door

     The first day of the New Year: a good day for visiting.  We are planning to go calling on two of our old doors which have recently taken up residence across the street. For years they had lived in our garage – leftovers from a long-ago remodel here.  Now they are beginning life anew at neighbor Bradley’s.  They are upstairs in his house just as they once were here.  I’m sure they will feel right at home.
     Bradley’s house (the W.D. Taylor House, 1870) and ours (the Thomas Crellin House, 1869) are only a year apart in age, but other than being ‘stick built’ are not much alike.  It’s my understanding that our house was built from plans that the Crellin family brought with them from the Isle of Man in England.  That fact, according to the preservation architects who specialize in that sort of thing, causes the design elements of our house to be more ‘modern.’
     As it was explained to us, the usual way for new building ideas to get to the West Coast in those days was very gradually.  Plans moved west with the pioneers and it generally took twenty to thirty years for the cutting-edge ideas from England to reach our side of this continent.  The fact that the Crellins came ’round the horn directly to Oysterville with their house plans is apparent in the details of this house as well as in its twin up the street which was built by Tom’s brother in 1867.
     I don’t know for certain, but I think that one of these distinctive design elements has to do with our interior doors and their knobs.  The doors are standard height, 78½ inches, but the doorknobs, instead of being the usual halfway between top and bottom (which would be at about 39 inches) are in reality ten inches lower.
    The result is that very tall people like Nyel almost have to lean down to grasp the knob.  Which is odd, in a way, because Tom Crellin was reputed to be one of the tallest oystermen on the bay – more than six and a half feet tall – and could, therefore, tong for oysters in waters deeper than anyone else.  For sure these low doorknobs were a challenge for him.
     In my growing up years, when I was an Oysterville Summer Kid, the thrill of returning to this house each year had a lot to do with these doorknobs.  Nowhere else in my experience were there doorknobs just the right height for me.  Only here at Granny and Papa’s house in Oysterville!  Nowadays, of course, living with them every day causes me to almost take them for granted.  Almost… but not quite.
     I am so glad that those two extra doors that were stored for so long in our garage are now beginning a useful second life at Bradley’s.  And, of course, for me the greatest pleasure comes from the fact that they have not moved far from home.  They are still in Oysterville!

1 Comment

  1. Stephanie Frieze

    How very cool that your doors only moved across the street! As to knob height, we too have very low door knobs. Our house is not so old as yours (1881), but have the same low ones. I found some amythest knobs I want to get Mychael Clarson to put on our bedroom door.


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