More door myths: Double doors for superstitious people

Melissa Nesbitt from Texarkana Museums System in Arkansas writes, “I just heard this from a visitor to our museum today–he can’t (of course) remember at what historic home he heard it, but it went something like this–there were often double doors on older homes (one on each side of the front area I think he meant), and one was used for entering and one for exiting because it was “bad luck” to enter and exit through the same door.  Yeah, right…  ”

Actually, Melissa, your visitor has it backwards. The superstition says it is bad luck for entering and exiting through different doors. So if you entered through the back door, you should exit through the back door to avoid bad luck. Some attribute this to Irish superstition; others to general folklore. 

I can’t quite see what the visitor here had in mind . . . “double doors” are just a single opening with two doors that open from the middle. If he meant “two front doors” in one house, he’s probably picturing a duplex. 

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13 Responses to More door myths: Double doors for superstitious people

  1. Ella Aderman says:

    What I have heard as an explanation of the 2 separate, side-by-side front doors in a single family residence, is that one was for men, and one for women.

  2. Miss Susie says:

    Our home was built in 1962. There are two front doors here. One is the original door and gets stuck frequently. The second was built during the major renovations in the 80s.

    Sent from my iPhone

  3. S.P. Whitham says:

    These aren’t duplexes. But there are quite a few of these older homes (mid 1800’s) in southeastern Indiana similar to the one pictured but more are single storied. Never learned why. A fashion statement?

  4. Elizabeth SImon says:

    I worked at a mid-18th century historic house in Virginia that originally had two side-by-side front doors. The explanation there was that one was a family entry, and the other was a visitor/public/business entry. The owner’s office (he did carpentry and contracting) and the dining/entertaining room were on the side of the house with the visitor entry, with bedrooms and family space on the other. A later owner turned one of the doors into a window, but evidence of the original design was evident when the house was restored.

  5. sheafferhistorian says:

    Reblogged this on Practically Historical.

  6. jseapker says:

    In the South, there are churches that have two entrances, one for men and one for women. Janet

    Janet K. Seapker

    Architectural Historian

    307 N 15th Street

    Wilmington, NC 28401-3813

  7. Barb King says:

    A Pennsylvania German home I worked in (common near Ohio/Penn.border) had this look. One front door (the left) went directly into the parlor, one front door into the foyer, which itself had doors to each room.

    Entering the right side door you could hang your coat and hat. In front of you was the staircase, to the left would be another parlour entrance, but if you turned right, it led to the dining room.

    We theorize it was to keep formal visitors from seeing the family sitting room or kitchen.Andbthe extra doors trapped the warmth in the rooms in winter. As staff we rarely used these doors when there were two in the kitchen, and one to the cellar, which had it’s own exit.

    A late Victorian remodel/redecorating of an older true-brick family home, it was a really neat home.

  8. My grandmother (Welch-Irish) said that if you left by a different door than the one you entered, it would bring more visitors. I guess the luck depended on the people.

  9. Katie says:

    I live in Ireland and some people here still think it’s bad luck to enter and leave a house by different doors (mostly in a joking way but it’s still remembered and referenced). But we do live in the country so I wouldn’t say it’s widespread.

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