According to a present fashion, the doors of the new vestibules are of glass, protected on one side by an iron grating, on the other by a hanging of velvet or silk. The outer or street door has, in many cases, the glass and iron only, giving a view of the marble vestibule within, with the marble steps leading up to the inner glass door, which is protected by the velvet hanging.

A small vestibule leading to an ordinary town or country house is interesting when treated with a panelling of wood. When the wood-work inside is white, white paint in the vestibule is proper. It always suggests a certain refinement, but must never be employed except by persons who can afford to have the paint renewed whenever a sign of shabbi-ness appears. The dust of the street has free access to the vestibule if the outside door is open, and nothing like a paper, or of a texture that soap and water will injure, is admissible.

The glass of the inner vestibule door is hung with a lace or muslin curtain, to protect the hall during the day. When the lights are turned on at night, some opaque inner covering is a necessity. This is generally of silk, either in the form of a shade on rollers, or of a curtain looped back during the day and made to fall at night. The color of the silk depends upon that of the hall. The curtain should be so fastened that puffs of air do not disturb it when the door is opened. The general custom is to run the small brass rods through the upper or lower part of the lace or muslin.

To relieve a plain muslin or silk of a sense of flatness, it is gathered on the rods. Now and then a curtain is made of the finest French muslin with an embroidered monogram in the centre. The muslin is stretched and made to lie smooth on the rod. Only the finest needlework is employed. The woodwork of the door makes a frame for the glass, and therefore for the curtain, accentuating it into a special feature.

Halls Houses 125

A door opening from the street directly into a long and narrow hall is often finished with narrow glass on the side protected by an iron grating, with a transom protected in the same way. It is possible at times to fill the side window with a plant, but ordinarily a curtain is used. In certain houses inhabited by lovers of color, or collectors of hangings, the transom and side lights are treated with a Madras curtain covered with flowers, the light as falling through giving the effect of stained glass. Beautiful shadow silks produce the same effect, but they are never to be employed except by persons understanding the relative values of things. Indiscriminately used, these textiles at doors would be as objectionable as the colored glass of commerce, against which too fierce a crusade can hardly be preached.

A solid wood door is made interesting by a bull's-eye and a knocker, like the door once belonging to a man of letters in New York - the most cheerful and the most hospitable door to be found anywhere up and down the street. It was always as though your host had not only stood by the door himself, but had come with extended hands half-way down the steps to greet you. It was the one door of its kind on the block, of panelled oak, with one yellow bull's-eye, a brass knocker, and three numbers written in brass figures. Simply to think of it now brings back the feeling of its old-time welcoming charm.

Halls Houses 126

IN the modern house of any pretensions the hall has come to be regarded as a distinct, important, and often imposing architectural feature, built to hold a grand stairway, once the glory of an old-world palace; stone fountains that have sung under Italian skies, or with rafters and panellings made to imitate those in famous chateaux. But it is only within comparatively recent years that we have done as much for our halls. I happened, the other day, to make two afternoon visits in two different houses on either side of one of our old-fashioned squares. The first house, built by a celebrated statesman, cost untold sums, and New Yorkers of a generation ago can remember the tales that were told of its magnificence, its fabulous wealth of detail, its painted ceilings, and marvellous upholsteries. But what dreariness, what gloom, what an overpowering sense of oppression weighed upon me as I entered, as though everything in the life of the man who had dwelt there must have pressed heavily, even the provision made for his pleasures. The hall was gloomy, lighted only by the glass of the front door; the walnut stairs, though wide and curving, were ugly and over-weighted; the two drawing-rooms, opening into each other, were lighted by only small windows in front; the huge dining-room ran across the entire width of the back of the house and took all the light from the middle. I could only sit and wonder at it all, - at the absence of grace and beauty, the disregard of cheerfulness. Here, I felt, was the apotheosis of the ponderous.

Halls Houses 127

On the other side of the square a house as famous in its day, as costly and as drearily splendid, had been transformed into a dwelling of hospitable welcoming fireplaces, exquisite ceilings - a place of beauty, repose, and indefinable charm; and withal of such refinement, with such a livable, lived-in quality about it, that the veriest stranger would have felt the grace and sweetness of the hostess, prevailing like an atmosphere everywhere. Nothing that was dark, gloomy, or ponderous was permitted here. The marble hall, which I entered from the street, was wide and spacious. The marble stairs leading to the hall on the dining-room floor had been turned. Tapestries were hung above them, while below their marble facing an Italian fountain trickled into an old marble tomb rilled with maidenhair ferns and white azaleas.

Halls Houses 128