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Webinar: Restoring Monumental Bronze Doors

April 25 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm



April 25
12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
Cost: Free
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California Preservation Foundation
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Architectural Bronze in Construction: U. S. Manufacturing of Monumental Bronze Doors – 19th and 20th Centuries

The use of architectural bronze dates back centuries. The Pantheon retains the oldest surviving monumental bronze doors dating from A.D. 164. Examples of magnificently sculpted bronze doors from the 15th and 16th centuries remain throughout the world, which demonstrates the durability of this material.

U.S. design, manufacturing, and production of bronze doors peaked in the late 19th through early 20th centuries. Monumental bronze doors are found on architecturally significant buildings, including numerous state capitols, while smaller bronze doors were commercially available for stores, banks, libraries, and mausoleums. Many bronze door manufacturers were active during this period, including AJ Bayer, Art Metal, Crown Iron Works, Ellison, Flour City, Gorham, Michaels Art Bronze, Newman, Reliance Bronze, Tiffany, Wisconsin Iron Works, and Winslow Brothers.  These manufacturers worked closely with prominent architects such as John Parkinson, John C. Austin, and Albert C. Martin Sr. who designed L.A.’s City Hall; and Schultze and Weaver who designed the Hunter-Dulin Building in San Francisco.

The Gorham Manufacturing Company transformed the metalworks industry in the U.S., surpassing the trade practices of those in Europe through acute business management, innovative artistic skills, and industrial advancement. The company originated in the early 19th century as a small jewelry shop in Providence, Rhode Island, selling handmade metal goods. By the late 19th century, Gorham developed industrial machinery and techniques, leading to the production of larger architectural pieces, such as bronze doors.

Gorham, like other manufactures, produced bronze doors as a part of standard production processes, but they also specialized in custom monumental bronze doors.  In 1918 Gorham produced for the Missouri State Capitol a set of monumental pivoting, bi-fold, bronze doors, touted by newspapers as the largest since the Roman era. The doors’ size and mechanical functionality makes them a unique example of 20th-century bronze door manufacturing worthy of exploration.

This case study examines the 19th and 20th century U.S. bronze door industry, dives deeper into design and production through the lens of the Gorham Manufacturing Company and provides insight into the challenges of restoring monumental bronze doors.


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