Red Door 104’s “Grander” Opening

Audrey Sullivan’s Red Door 104 is open for business with a new welcoming exterior and a new gallery inside, along with lots of other interior updates.

Audrey tells us the story of how she found the iconic red door for which she named her business and about the work that has been completed on her building.

*This blog post was written before the “Grander” Opening, which took place on May 4th.

The famous red doors at Red Door 104.

After making the decision to move from Northern Virginia to Farmville, we purchased a building on Main Street and began designing the massive back deck, the house upstairs, and a studio. During one of my drives to Farmville, I was going through Orange and saw a huge door leaning up against an old log cabin in the middle of a salvage yard. I almost hit the car in front of me when I saw it!  The yard was open by appointment only, so I called the number on the door and they came within 20 minutes. Limited information was available, but what they could tell us was that the door was over 500 years old, had originally been an outside courtyard door, and had come over to the U.S. on a ship from Spain. Initially, I was interested in the door for our home upstairs, which would have it located in the back of the building.  One of the architects I interviewed said, “Oh no, you have to put the sexy up front!” He was right, it needed to be on the front of the building.

I must give credit to my husband Kent, he went back and purchased the door for my Christmas present that year.  The door is 11’ tall and 6’ wide. It took six men to lift it each time it had to be moved from one side of the studio to the other during construction.  A good friend of our family’s, Joe Nutter, is a very fine woodworker and I asked him if he would assist in taking the door apart so that we could work on each section individually.  Joe did this for us and when it was apart, suggested that he would like to do the restoration for us as well. We were thrilled because he’s not only an excellent wood worker, but he’s also a good and trusted friend.

The door is made of fir, and a good bit of bug damage and rot occurred at the bottom and had to be cut down by replacing small sections.  There was beautiful trim work that also fed many bugs and had to be replaced. Al Buzak was able to make an identical trim for us so that we could maintain the original design.  Al also sand blasted all of the iron work that was encased in 500 years of rust!

The original glass in the door was bullet glass; however, there were only two whole panes and one broken one left.  I wanted more light to come through, so Grant’s Glass ordered and cut the beautiful seeded glass that is now part of the door.

New numbers on the exterior of the building.

Apparently, the door was taken out of the original frame and someone nailed 4×4’s around it to hold it together during shipping. They left the hinges for the frame in Spain and only the hinges on the door came along for the trip.  I designed new frame hinges and Brian at Rod and Staff had them made from iron. Since none of the original hinges were machine made, none of the pins were the same size and had to be hand forged to fit each individual door hinge.

The door was originally painted red, but probably never repainted, as it had turned to a pale salmon color.  I wanted to honor the original color and decided to repaint it a vibrant red. I decided on Benjamin Moore’s “Heritage Red”.  The arched window at the top of the door is our logo and the color and address number came together to name Red Door 104.

Last but not least, I have to give credit to Jimmy McDilda, MCD Inc., our contractor.  This installation is seemingly impossible, but I have no doubt when he’s finished, the work will be impeccable!  We consider ourselves extremely fortunate to have had so many amazing hands touch that door, it has become a true community project.  

Once the door is installed in its frame, the front of the building will be boarded up and all of the brick and glass will be removed.  A recessed doorway will be built with glass panels and old brick surround. Varnished beadboard will replace the soffit with an arch cut out so that the door arch will be visible.  Heavily profiled wood molding will be surrounding all of the windows on both sides (including the office next door). They will be painted in jewel tones. Iron window boxes will be put in the windows upstairs and a new matching small red door will replace the metal frame door in the other office.

Our gallery will be expanding and we will be offering Fine, Fun and Functional art for sale.

*Red Door 104’s “Grander” Opening took place on May 4th with a full crowd and ribbon cutting by the Farmville Area Chamber of Commerce. The new door has been installed and the gallery is open for business!