York Town Square

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Pa. German farmhouses: ‘The riddle of two front doors’

Loganville’s Alan Nelson raises a question that I’ve often wondered about, too.
Why do some German farmhouses often have two doors?
He’s heard a variety of theories: religious reasons, an entrance for extended family and better ventilation.
Lila Fourhman-Shaull, York County Heritage Trust archivist, found a slightly different explanation… .

She pointed to Henry J. Kauffman’s “Pennsylvania Folklife” article, “The Riddle of Two Front Doors,” which contends:
Eighteenth-century homes had a center hall dividing each floor into two rooms. But builders became more frugal in the 19th century. They eliminated the center hallway, which was absorbed into the two front rooms. These two rooms became the living room and the parlor, the latter used for company, funerals, weddings and other special events. Each room had a separate entrance.
Kauffman’s article was written in 1954, and lots of scholarship has taken place since. If you have additional thoughts, feel free to comment.

Also of interest:
See these stories and photos about The Pennsylvania Dutch.