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Doors are a lot like people, says Wilson Martin, Utah historical preservation officer. "They all come in similar sizes, but they all have different personalities."

But by looking at doors you can get a sense of architecture, history and art — as well as insight into the people who live behind them, he says. "Some doors say 'welcome,' others say 'stay away."'

In recent years, he says, "Doors have become poster art." Countries such as Ireland, England and the United States, through the National Trust for Historic Preservation, have produced posters, books, postcards and more featuring doors.

In historical preservation circles, mention "The Door" and people will immediately recognize one of the "greatest controversies in the world of historic preservation," Martin said.

"The Royal Crescent in Bath is a collection of more than a hundred Georgian-style homes built in a semicircle on a hillside above town — all painted white. Then one of the owners painted his door yellow — and there was a national uproar."

The case was debated in Parliament; there was letter after letter in the London Times. It became a huge issue of individual rights versus historical preservation, Martin says. "I've been to Bath. I've seen 'The Door.' I've touched it. And it's still painted yellow."

In Salt Lake City, there may be no better place to find "poster doors" than the Avenues. This eclectic neighborhood is filled with many older homes, and you don't have to wander very far to find examples of doors that are painted in a variety of colors as well as doors that represent a variety of architectural styles.

"The Avenues is a great neighborhood," says Wayne Green, chairman of the Greater Avenue Community Council. "There's such a nice mix of homes and people."

It's a good place to live and a good place to visit, he says. Every September the council sponsors a street fair that draws hundreds of people from all over, but it's also a good place to walk or jog for exercise.

if you live there, or if you visit, you might want to pay more attention to the doors.

You can see classical, Victorian, modern, Deco, neo-Victorian and more, all within a short distance, Martin says. "And they all say such fun things. Some smile or laugh; some invite us in. Some say, 'What is this?' Some have fanciful wood carving and some have stained and leaded glass. Some are new doors that want to be old doors. Many are old doors that have been carefully preserved. Some are plain and simple. Some scream, 'I'm here.' Some are extra wide, with a welcoming breadth. Some are narrow, reflecting their historic period."

You see doors with glass ovals and doors with lace curtains. You see doors with windows on top, in the middle and at the side. You see multipaned windows and solid squares. You see arches and scrollwork. And you see blues and purples and reds and greens.

Some doors try to be something they are not, he says. And some are much more than they first appear. They welcome you into the present. They help you appreciate the past. And it is fun just to look at the variety.

"They're just like the people who own them — similar and yet unique," Martin says.


E-mail: carma@desnews.com