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DOORS of Ashland revisited

Most doors don't warrant a second look.

But a walking tour through downtown Ashland reveals historic doors, ones that were meticulously hand-made by local craftsmen and others painted in rich and playful hues.

When Steve and Allyson Holt of Allyson's of Ashland, 115 E. Main St., were getting ready to open six years ago, the building had a plain metal and glass door, Steve Holt recalled.

The couple commissioned local craftsman Larry Bishop to make a new door. Although the entry is not wide enough for double doors, Bishop cleverly created a double-door effect. He made a half oval for the glass in the mahogany and cherry wood door that matches up with a half oval of glass in the wood wall to the side of the door. The beveled glass itself was imported from Germany, according to Steve Holt.

A custom metalworker made a large hand-poured bronze spoon to serve as the push bar for the door, he said.

The couple bought brightly colored plates and cups from Goodwill, broke them into shards and used the pieces to make a mosaic for the entryway floor.

"I figured it wouldn't last six months, and here we are six years later," he said.

Local carver and designer Russell Beebe made two sets of doors for Nimbus, 25 E. Main St., out of solid Honduran mahogany with rose wood for the curving push bars.

"Mahogany is a fine material to use for doors because it's not affected by weather conditions or moisture," said Beebe, whose latest project is a tribute sculpture to Rogue Valley Native Americans that includes a likeness of elder Agnes Taowhywee Baker-Pilgrim.

At The Black Sheep Pub Restaurant, located at 51 N. Main St. in the historic Independent Order of Odd Fellows building on the Plaza, the twin tall red doors bear black signs reading "Lunch" and "Dinner" in gold calligraphy.

Pub owner Susan Chester said she had the doors restored and repainted red, then commissioned Dennis DeBey, founder of Ashland Forge, to make metal knockers.

DeBey said he wanted to make ones that looked like heavy metal knockers found in England, but the design is his own rather than a copy of any existing knockers.

Heading uphill along Main Street, Chateaulin Restaurant Bar, 50 E. Main St., has a French-style interior door. The heavy exterior door was added later to help protect customers seated near the entry from the cold in winter, according to former owner Michael Donovan.

Bishop also made the doors at Earthly Goods, 142 E. Main St, which feature glass with waving ripples surrounded by pale wood.

At the Columbia Hotel, 262 1/2 E. Main St., an old wooden door with the hotel's name etched in frosted glass guards the steep staircase leading to the lobby.

Established in 1910, the hotel is a registered historic landmark.

For Tom Houston, owner of Houston's Custom Framing Fine Art at 270 E. Main St., salvaging and restoring the existing door to his business was a time-intensive job.

"It was hideous. When we bought the business, it was light blue," he said. "I started stripping it down and found half a dozen layers of other colors."

One of the most difficult aspects was scraping paint out of the carved design surrounding the door's window. After leaving the door in it's natural wood color, Houston decided two years ago to paint it brick red and put gold-colored leafing around the window.

The frame shop's door pairs well with the adjacent Pangea Grills and Wraps door at 272 E. Main St. That door has an undercoat of vivid orange and yellow topped with broad sweeps of copper and gold in the loose style of an abstract painting.

JeanneLouise Vintage Clothing Costumes, 296 E. Main St., has a plain glass and metal door, but look for the wooden panels to the side with carved tulips.

Crossing the street, the door and entryway to Village Shoes 337 E. Main St., is painted an elegant black with brick red. Underfoot, concrete hexagons have imprints of leaves.

Take a close look at the tiger-striped pattern created by the mustard yellow and dark brown wood of the door at Ancient of Days' Gallery, 357 E. Main St. The door also has unusual glass that narrows at the bottom. Karen Alexandria, 165 E. Main St., has a door sponged with purple, pink, maroon, sapphire, gold and orange paint, while the door for Horsefeathers of Ashland, 40 N. Main St., has a red base with gold accents.

The double oak doors with beveled glass at Paddington Station, 125 E. Main St., are original and date from 1900, when the building was home to the J.P. Dodge Furniture store, according to Paddington Station co-owner Pam Hammond.

Staff writer can be reached at 479-8199 or vlaldous@yahoo.com.