Revisited Myth #14: To ward off witches, early Americans hung doors with Bible and cross symbolism.

May 10, 2014

 

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According to this myth, the bottom two panels of a six-panel wooden door were designed to represent an open Bible, and the middle stile and rail were meant to form a cross. This story is trotted out to show how pious our ancestors were. Or how laughably superstitious they were to think this would ward off witches.

Remember Myth #6 about the Holy Lord hinges? Same thing here. Both are based on the erroneous belief that all early Americans were very religious and highly superstitious. The truth is, some were and some weren’t. But no one at the time thought of his door as Christian symbolism. The six-panel design is just one of many wooden door styles that was popular back then and still is today.

When I asked Colonial Williamsburg Senior Architectural Historian and author Carl Lounsbury to comment on this myth, he said, “I am not sure why otherwise intelligent people seem to embrace these preposterous notions. I have heard it hundreds of times in descriptions of various features in buildings . . . Cross and bible doors—-Really? On the Moses Myers [a Jewish merchant] House in Norfolk?”

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