Gabe and Amanda rescue and restore a beautiful vintage screen door

midcentury-screen-doorWe’ve all done it — admired something in a neighbor’s home and secretly wished they would sell it to us. Gutsy Gabe and Amanda, owners of a 1954 North Carolina time capsule house , had their eye on a nearby home’s vintage screen door for years before they inquired about buying it. Much to their delight, the owner gave it to them for free.

midcentury-screen-doorGabe writes:

I’ve passed this house my whole life but for the past few years I’ve longed to own that killer screen door! The house has been vacant for a couple years now so I stopped to ask the neighbors about the owner and told them I was interested in buying the decoration off the screen. They took my name number and I also left a note on the door as well.


Last month I finally received a phone call from the owner. She was so nice and said I could just come get it. She had acquired the property from her grandmother who is now in assisted living. They were planning to sell the house on the courthouse steps and wasn’t worried about a missing screen door. As a matter of fact she was delighted that we took interest in preserving it.


After getting it home and taking it apart from the old door frame, it needed quite a bit of TLC. My dad and I bent the pieces back into shape, fabricated a new cattail leaf to replace one that was missing.


Then we made a frame out of square metal tubing to help attach it to my door at home. We also made little mounting brackets to mount it by, and to hold the whole thing up off the glass.


Then it was sent off to be sandblasted and powder coated to match my door at home.


When I got it back I was amazed at the detail that was preserved under the decades of house paint and rust. Notice the feathers, beak and eye. Things were made so great back then (1920’s or 30’s) this thing is still a heavy and beautiful piece of decorative steel even after being in the elements all those years.


Next, I centered it up, and mounted it to our glass storm door using sheet metal screws. I think the little lady’s grandma would be proud of our repurposing her vintage screen door appliqué ! Now it may survive on for further generations to be appreciated!

midcentury-screen-door midcentury-screen-doorYou guys did a fantastic job refinishing the vintage screen door — and it looks wonderful on your house, too. Thanks so much for sharing your story with us. You’ve given me the guts to finally ask some of my neighbors about those midcentury bits I’ve been wondering about. Hopefully I have your kind of luck!

UPDATE: After this story went live, we heard from Linda, granddaughter of the woman who was the original owner of the vintage screen door that Gabe and Amanda refinished.

Linda writes:

OMG! my Grandmother’s screen door looks so beautiful, you did such a fantastic job. As a child,I always loved that door, unfortunately my Grandmother passed away and my 2 aunts had the house and as they aged so did the house. I’m so glad that you left that note and you preserved a part of my childhood. Indeed Ms. Lena would have been so glad that it found such a beautiful home. Enjoy!



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  1. midmichigan says

    You guys did a great job restoring that piece. Now the question is what kind of bird is it? I don’t think that’s a flamingo’s beak. Maybe it’s a snipe.

    • Diane in CO says

      You raise a provocative question. Clearly it’s not a flamingo nor a stork — nor a great blue heron nor an ibis or great egret. At least as far as I can discern…..


    • Robin Sawyer says

      I love your story of the screen door discovery and restoration. I have what appears to be the same insert. Are the scrolls iron and the rest steel? Thank you for sharing your story. You did a beautiful job on restoring your wonderful find!

  2. Retro says

    Love it! Thank you so much for being one of “our kind” of people – those lovely wackadoodles that see something they love and go for it. You did a wonderful thing, preserving such a beautiful piece of art.

  3. Chicago Char says

    There’s a huge iron gate nearby I have wanted to rescue for 10 years, so maybe the time is now although I have found it spurs the owners to suddenly value it to top dollar. Still if that spurs them to pay attention and refurbish it, it is worth it to ask. Hmmm.

    I suggest dabbing some touch-up matching paint on top those screws to further blend them in – of course it likely would wear off. It looks wonderful regardless, especially in the night photo, and would be a pleasure to enjoy upon arrival.

  4. Laurie Louise says

    Love it! And your home…oh my word! There’s a house near us with a swoopy screen door that sports a bucking bronco. Covet is not a strong enough word. I’ve been planning to approach them…this inspires me to go ahead and do it. In the same area are two modern screen doors that have connected rectangles. I ogle these doors every time I pass. Thanks for sharing your terrific save!

  5. Jackie says

    Lovely! My Great Aunt Daisy had that door! Brings back such wonderful memories of her house. Seems like that was a common door, at least through the south–even more so than the similar design featuring swallows. Who made those doors?

    • Gabriel Nicholson says

      I have no idea who made these, but I’m looking for more of them! Glad it brought back great memories for you!

  6. Bronwyn says

    What a wonderful save!

    I’m just curious where you would send something like that to be sandblasted and powder coated?

    • Gabriel Nicholson says

      There is a great place nearby here called New Finish sandblasting and powder coating- they are great at this stuff!

  7. Sheryl Fowler says

    I am so jealous. The house we lived in when my father was a medical resident in Memphis had a screened door like this, sans water bird. I have searched for one for my own house ever since. But the bird!! Oh, what I wouldn’t give… . Thanks for sharing this and turning me green with envy!

  8. Cosette says

    I am pea green with envy as well!!

    I have seen a few of these down here in Florida over the years.

    I long to have one for my 1957 atomic bomblette of an abode which I have named Heron House after the Great Blue Herons that frequent my neighborhood here on the banks of the Manatee River.

    Lucky!! Lucky!! Lucky!!

    • Mary Elizabeth says

      Beautiful country you are in, and yes, herons are all over the place on the Gulf Coast! Hope you find your heron door. Suggest you find your closest Habitat for Humanity Restore and let them know you are interested. Have cards made up saying you want a screen door with a heron decoration, including your phone number. Also, offer to buy people’s screen doors and look at your local dump/transfer station for ones that have been pulled out. Or, you can do what this couple did and knock on the door and ask for it.

  9. Kit says

    Oh my goodness! What a wonderful service to rescue something that looked so completely wasted. You and your dad went to a huge effort of time and no doubt, dollars spent, and the result is gorgeous.

    That there is such a touching story with a personal note attached makes it so much better still! I loved the look and idea of the rescue anyway, but extra touch of history is just super.

  10. J D Log says

    Great work Gabe & Amanda, there was a house a few blocks away with a double door palm trees and waves it was bulldozed very quickly although the house was in great condition, I guess it’s the Sydney real estate prices.
    I looked through my store and mail order catalogues they were offered till as late as 1967 over here all sorts of birds, ships, Mexicans even boomerangs. There are quite a few left in my area with the patterns but the picture ones are rare.
    I have a pattern one where i have rebuilt the wooden frame restored the iron. I have mounted it just got to finish off the beading and the fly screen. They really do look great.
    I am also working on restoring a scrolled butterfly address number scroll and letterbox with stand. Your letterbox inspired me to try and build something custom.

  11. Linda says

    Hi Gabe, Still amazed at the great job you did on Grandmother’s door. Is there any way you could print the story and pictures and mail them to me. My two aunts whom are in the nursing home would absolutely love this. They are 91 and 94 yrs. young
    This was their home!

  12. JoAnne Travis says

    U guys made that dr sooo beautiful I’m glad u do such good work!! Would live to have ur address so we can ride by & see it

  13. nina462 says

    I found an advert in The American Home magazine (May 1951), So lovely, yet cost so little! $21.50……I believe it was made by the National Guard Products, Inc., 540 Jackson Ave, P:O Box 1520, Memphis 1. Tenn. (the one pictured in the ad, has a duck).

  14. Pam says

    My inlaws had this same screen door, and just the other day we were trying to figure out what happened to it. I have since been in search of one like it, so I googled it to see if I could find one. And your picture came up What a beautiful job you all did. Do you know where I might get my hands on one?

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