In search of a Carpenter who specializes in old home restoration

Hi All, 

I am in search of a carpenter or contractor that could help me with my front door project on my 1865 home. My front door was replaced over 15 years ago with a hideous home depot fiber glass door and the entire entrance was modified. I am not 100% sure what the entrance used to look like or what type of door was originally there. I have been doing some research and even have another post on this forum (in search of 19th century front door). I think this project would involve some pretty significant modifications and I do not just want to hire any old contractor off the street. I think the person for the job needs to have a lot of experience working on old homes because my intention is to make everything look like it was there from the beginning. Please let me know if you have any recommendations. I live in Flemington, NJ. 

Thank you all in advance!

p.s. I'm interested in the doors I attached as a picture as long as they are appropriate for the style and age of my home. Please feel free to leave your opinion on them as well. I don't want to add anything to my house that looks out of place, and I am by no means an expert on historical architecture. You can see the style of my home in my profile picture

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I think that these doors look very nice.  How close are they to the opening in your house?  If they have to be cut aggressively, that might be a problem.

I think my house needs to be cut aggressively. I would alter the house before the doors. Normally I'd be against doing that l, but the whole entrance to my house is not original. It's been heavily modified to accommodate the current ugly door and side lights. The whole thing is magnetic which obviously was not a thing in the 19th century. I know that this is going to be a huge undertaking. My current door is about 83" high if I remember correctly and 73 inches wide with the side lights. These doors are 93" high and 53" wide (both combined). So it would be significantly different that what's there now.

The double doors are beautiful, but given the different proportions and the interior layout, I would not buy them until I had a carpenter and a plan fully mapped out that looks good in a mock up.  A large single door with customized sidelights to match a salvaged single door (or single sidelight) might be a better choice.

Thank you for the advice. I contacted a carpenter to come out and access the situation. I'll let you know how it goes.

Your doors are lovely. However, I am not an expert but the doors appear to me to be around circa 1880's or later. I have the original door surround of my house built in 1869. It has side windows ( lights) and an overhead transom window. So, this type of door would actually be in keeping with the age of your house. Double doors also were used during the time period, so why not use the style that you like.

Thanks for the advice! As long as no one would drive by and thing "what the heck was that person thinking" then I'll be happy :)

Having been in the "old house" mode since the early 1980"s, I have come to realize that what other people think really is not of much importance. It is your home and you must be happy with your choices.  There will always be those "purists" who will attempt to tell you what to do.  Their opinion is just that, their OPINION.  I once had someone chastise me for not restoring the gas jets/ lines and use only gas lighting.  Well, I did not restore the gas for the same reason that I did not eliminate the bathroom in favor of the outhouse, the in house kitchen in favor of the outside summer house, the laundry in favor of a tub, bar of  soap and paddle, etc, etc. It was my house and I will restore and live the way that I choose.  I certainly have restored in keeping with the time of the house, but I live in this century.  And, by the way, I read where you were questioning if your house originally had an entrance vestibule. From the photo that you posted I can tell you that it did not have a vestibule.  Your front door opened directly into your hall.

Relax and have fun because restoration takes a lot of time and money so you should try to enjoy yourself through out the process.  It won't happen over night .

HAHAHA! Yes, all of the restorations I do will be with history in mind but not going backward in time to make the house not livable from a modern day in age. Could you imagine removing a bathroom in favor of an outhouse? That's taking it too far for me. But in terms of things like doors, floor, molding, windows, I would like to try and remain as historically accurate as possible. I didn't think there was an entrance vestibule either. From the inside of the house it doesn't seem like there was space for one. I've decided to buy the doors that I like because I don't want to lose them, and when budget permits I will do the replacement. If at that time I figure out (based on what's behind the walls) that I have purchased the wrong type of door then I'll sell them and get something else. Luckily the doors I'm interested in are a very good price so if I am not able to use them I am confident that I will be able to sell them to at least break even. The cool thing about them is that they are from the town my Grandmother grew up in, so if they do end up working they will be nice to have :)

Thanks again for them input. I like to hear everyone's opinions and ideas of what my house might have looked like back in the day. 

just found out the doors have already been sold. I'M SO SAD!

The doors that I wanted have already been sold... SAD FACE!

That is too bad, but there is a lot of salvage out there, so you will find something good.

As a professional Carpenter who works on Old Houses [but not in your area] I can tell you that such a contractor will be hard to find. Working on old houses is, in my opinion, a different trade than building new houses or additions. It takes a different mindset [attitude] and a different skill set [aptitude] Good luck and here are some suggestions:

Ask around to the Local historian or historical society who also might have info on the history of your House. Also ask around with your neighbors living in old houses. Architects who work on restoration projects are another source.

Will

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