Historic Door To Monte Sano Hotel Sold At Estate Sale, Then Lost


Photo of the door, laid on its side

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – A Huntsville woman unearthed a historic treasure at a unique estate sale in 2011.  But the door to the past she opened has now been lost.

The estate sale last year was at the home of Horace and Sylvia Garth.  Horace’s grandparents had bought the historic Monte Sano Hotel in 1909, and six generations of Huntsville artifacts had been stored in the Garth home basement for years.

The items sold included a large clock, some hotel beds, dressers, wash stands, chests, lamps and water decanters.

Heather Sheppard went to the estate sale.  She said she had no idea what she was walking into on that late summer day in 2011.  But as she dug through the relics shrouded for years by bed sheets in a medical district basement, she came across one door to the past that really piqued her interest.

“There were a few other things in front of it, so as I peeled everything back I noticed the door was, it’s just incredibly unique,” said Sheppard.  “It has all this hand carving on the bottom.  It’s probably two-thirds glass, it’s beveled and the door is incredibly heavy, you know it’s sold wood with a big leaded glass window in it.”

We met Sheppard near the last physical remnant of the Hotel Monte Sano proper on Old Chimney Road.  She says she had big plans for the door she found tucked away in a basement.

“I thought of all the things you could get out of the estate sale that would be a real statement on the front of the house, just a really interesting piece of history,” she said.

Sheppard planned the artifact for the threshold to the new home she and her husband are building.  For Heather, it was love at first sight.

“Oh yeah, the minute I saw it I knew, I knew and I immediately went upstairs and called my husband and my builder and just said ‘Am I crazy to do this’ and they said ‘no, go get it’, so I did and we purchased it immediately,” Sheppard said.

The door was a real welcoming statement and conversation starter; a way to artfully patina the newness of fresh lumber, brick and mortar.

Heather sent her massive found object with its particular dimensions to be cleaned, framed and stored until it was time for installation.

She thought her antique prize was safe, but something went terribly wrong.

“There was a big miscommunication and the door was accidentally put on a truck and sent sown to the Habitat for Humanity ReStore,” Sheppard said.

Amid nuts, bolts, salvaged sinks and plumbing parts, windows, tile, mirrored glass and other doors.  The ReStore offers great deals, and it appears someone with a good eye got just that.

“I can imagine stumbling upon that and just going… cool, just how neat that would be,” said Sheppard.

Though she’s scoured antique shops in the two weeks since she found out her prized portal has vanished, the door has eluded Heather.

Sheppard says she’s hoping an antique dealer picked up the door.  If you recognize the door featured in the story or have any information that could help clear up this mistake, please send an email to news@whnt.com.

We’ll get the update to the door’s rightful owner.

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