“I saw this tiny door at my neighbor’s house. I’m so confused. What is it for?” 


If you’ve ever explored an old house built before the 1950s, you may have come across a small door tucked away next to a closet. These little doors have been a source of curiosity and speculation for many homeowners and history enthusiasts. What were they used for? Why were they built into the walls? In this article, we will uncover the truth behind these mysterious little doors and reveal their real purpose.

One common misconception about these small doors is that they were created as secret passageways or hiding spots. The idea of hidden chambers and clandestine activities adds an air of mystery to these old houses, but the reality is far more mundane. Many people also think this door hides a storage area for suitcases. Placing it near a closet would make sense. However, the area appears too small for a big suitcase, especially considering older ones didn’t have wheels. Other frequently suggested possibilities are storing linens or having room for an ironing board. But the truth is that the little doors were not designed for covert purposes but rather had a practical function in the ’50s and ’60s.

The true purpose of these small doors was to provide additional storage space, specifically for a card table. In the mid-20th century, card games were a popular form of entertainment in many households. Families and friends would gather to play games like bridge, poker, or rummy. However, card tables can be bulky and take up a significant amount of space when not in use. To address this issue, ingenious designers came up with a clever solution – the small door.

Behind these seemingly inconspicuous doors, homeowners could store their folded card tables. The doors were typically large enough to accommodate the table’s dimensions and were strategically placed in convenient locations, such as next to a closet or in a hallway. This allowed families to keep their card tables out of sight when they weren’t in use, freeing up valuable space in their homes.

So, while the little doors may not lead to hidden treasure or secret passages, they do provide a glimpse into the lifestyle and priorities of a bygone era. They reflect the ingenuity of designers who sought to maximize space and create functional living environments for homeowners.

Despite their original purpose, these small doors have become cherished features in many old houses. They evoke a sense of nostalgia and curiosity, reminding us of a time when card games were a popular pastime and families gathered around the table for hours of entertainment. They also serve as a tangible link to the architectural and design trends of the ’50s and ’60s.

If you happen to own an old house with one of these little doors, consider preserving it as part of the property’s historical charm. While you may not have a card table to store behind it, you can repurpose the space for other storage needs. The small door could house extra linens, cleaning supplies, or even serve as a miniature pantry for non-perishable items.

The little doors found in old houses from before the 1950s may not lead to secret chambers or hidden passages, but they do have a practical purpose. Originally intended as storage space for card tables, these doors reflect the ingenuity and resourcefulness of designers from the ’50s and ’60s. Whether you own an old house with one of these doors or simply find them fascinating, they serve as a tangible link to the past and add a unique charm to any home.