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A Brief History Of Maine Garage Doors

By Tom Richardson

How many of you residents of Portland, Maine opened your garage doors today with a button? How many wish you could open yours with a button, or that you even had one? Odds are, the “have-nots” are in smaller number than those that have a garage with an automatic door opener. I hope you appreciate them because they haven’t always been around. Garages definitely make life a bit easier, and just in case you have taken them for granted, let’s take a look back about 100 years to see where they came from.

Before the invention of the car in the late 1890′s, and thus before the garage door as we know it began to take shape, the horse-and-carriage ruled the road. The carriages were stored with the horses in a little barn that was called a “carriage house.” Then the gas-powered automobiles were introduced into the U.S. and horse-drawn-buggies were replaced. While people in Maine were driving around their carriages, there was no way to escape the smell of horses and other livestock, because they were the motor. But even after the horse was needed, the cars were stored in the carriage houses until people realized that horses tend to transfer their smells willingly. Once cars became the norm, people began to shun the odors of horses and looked for other, cleaner places to store their shiny cars.

Recognizing this need, a few entrepreneurs in Maine and all over began to offer car owners a parking spot in their small garages behind closed garage doors. Wanting to keep that “new car smell” for as long as possible, the car owners obliged willingly. In fact, these parking garages became all too popular and ran out of spaces to rent as car ownership became increasingly popular. With this new development, car owners sent their cars back to the carriage houses, but kicked the animals out. Now that the garage was specifically made for the automobile, the garage doors began to become more specialized to the task of conveniently storing a car.

In the early years of the car, garage doors were little more than barn doors with strap hinges and all. When the snow in Maine would fall, it became difficult to open the doors that only swung to the outside because of the car that was inside of it. People had to shovel the snow to allow the door to swing open, and nobody likes to shovel snow. From this pain-point the sliding door was invented. But that required a double-sized garage to allow the door to slide from one side of the garage to the other. Then the folding garage door was invented that broke the door into smaller, hinged segments which negated the need for larger garages. Following these two developments, a garage door was invented that slid upwards; parallel to the ceiling. Could life have gotten easier? Yes, but only in America.

The only thing left to do after allowing garage doors to open up parallel to the garage ceiling was to automate them. Getting out of the car during a snowstorm in Maine is not as convenient as staying inside and pushing a button. As we’ve learned, in American society especially, if something can get easier, it will and does. Automating the garage door brought a couple of problems, though. Anybody with kids knows that a button that moves a giant door is an irresistible temptation, and is seen as a toy. After several tragic injuries and deaths of children, garage door manufacturers were required to build pressure and motion sensors into the door. When these sensors picked up an unusual obstruction, the door is sent back where it came from. Now, injuries due to garage doors are few and far between. What will be next in this evolution?

Learn more about Maine garage doors. Stop by the Portland Glass site where you can find out all about a goodMaine garage door and what it can do for you.

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Article Citation
MLA Style Citation:
Richardson, Tom "A Brief History Of Maine Garage Doors." A Brief History Of Maine Garage Doors. 7 Jul. 2010. 17 Aug 2014 <>.

APA Style Citation:
Richardson, T (2010, July 7). A Brief History Of Maine Garage Doors. Retrieved August 17, 2014, from

Chicago Style Citation:
Richardson, Tom "A Brief History Of Maine Garage Doors"

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