FORT WARD, BAINBRIDGE ISLAND – Followers of the Fort Ward bakery restoration will recall what a thrill it was two summers ago, when we discovered the building’s original front double-doors and two fanlight windows –and with them, the prospect of reinstalling these vintage fixtures after 50-plus years out of the building.
How could we follow that? Believe it or not …we’ve found two more original doors. They’ve been hidden away in a crawl space under the bakery’s raised floor for decades – since the Kennedy or Johnson administrations, by our best estimates – and on a recent morning, they came back out into the light.
Restoration team members Casey and Sean of the Park District discovered the doors in December as they started tearing out the building’s false floor, but we weren’t able to extricate them at the time. But once we finally got them out for inspection, the doors lived up to anticipation.
Like the original front double-doors, these doors are absolute monsters: 96x36x2.25in …. thick as bricks and stout as oaks, or in this case, firs. Same robust specs as shown in the original blueprints from 1908. They need to be cleaned up and refinished, but they’re in remarkably good shape.
As we stood the doors up for the first time and took stock, Casey noticed the blue-grey color matched a smear of old paint in one of the exterior door frames (SW corner off the kitchen), which made us think, ‘Hmmm, I bet that’s where it goes….’
So we mounted the hinges and within a few minutes the door was up and swinging away — a perfect fit. We happened to have one of the original fanlight windows onsite with us, so we test-fit that over the newly hung door …. again, a perfect fit. Add a piece of framing over the door and attach a vintage knob, et voila — a historic doorway restored.
While we’re just now starting to put the bakery back together after a protracted removal of non-original elements (tearing out the false floor closes out the demolition phase), this was our first really big “moment” where we could envision the finished product. Seeing the newly discovered door in place, the decorative fanlight above — even in their un-refinished state — that was worth a few words in the journal.
Oh, and the second door fits the northwest entrance. So of the bakery’s five exterior doors, four will be original to the building – a restoration coup.
Mostly we’re amazed that 50-60 years ago, when the Navy moved out of Fort Ward, private parties moved in and homesteaded the old bakery, raised the floor to create a crawl space and put in smaller doors, they had the foresight to go, “you know, someone someday may want these big doors again” and tucked them away like a time capsule … which on this day, we opened. And they were right.