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Door to the Past

Story by Lenny Koupal

(The following story originally appeared in Rim Country News, August 25 1978)


To some it's a work of art but to many it's a doorway to an area's heritage.

But no matter how it's looked upon, the 150 pound portal features a metallic montage of blacksmith sculptures which symbolically attempt to tell the story of Pine-Strawberry's past.

Situated along swirls and scrolls of rod iron assuming a total configuration of the letter S, the metal symbols are chronologically arranged in relation to the legacy responsible for the development of Pine-Strawberry area.

Creator of the door, Marvin Gardner, a blacksmith artist in Pine, said the idea for the handmade door located in the Pine Library was a joint effort between himself and Dorothy Ferguson of Pine.

Gardner said he was approached by Mrs. Ferguson who wanted a symbolic door made to mark the entrance of a museum complimenting the area's past. The museum was to be located in the newly built Pine Library.

With creative juices flowing, the two decided that the door should be constructed from wood and iron using materials with historic value to the area.

Gardner, therefore, decided to construct the outer portion of the door with redwood with redwood from a replaced flume constructed in the early 1900s to carry water from Fossil Creek to the Irving and Child's Power Plants west of Strawberry. Washers and rod iron was also taken for metal portions of the door. The metal for the door handle was acquired from the casing of an old forge.

Next came the metal design for the inside of the door. Appreciating the scrollwork achieved by blacksmiths of olden days, Gardner felt that this form of metal artwork should be the basis of the door's interior design.

nautiloid shellAlong with the scrollwork, arranged in a storytelling manner, forged sculptures depicting the area's heritage were agreed upon by the two planners.

The door's version of the story of Northern Gila County's past starts out at the beginning of the metal S with a sculptured shell design. The design depicts a nautiloid shell fossil discovered by Mrs. Ferguson. The fossil is the oldest prehistoric discovery in the Pine-Strawberry area.

After the beginning circular scrollwork, the remaining upper portion tells of the heritage of this area received from the various Indian cultures who once lived here. The Indian heritage is explained through Gardner sculptures of Indian implements.

As the lower portion of the S begins, the heritage changes from Indian to pioneer contributions to the area's development. The final scroll of the S contains the wheel.

Gardner said there is a significance to the shell and wheel designs. The shell signifies the beginning and the wheel is never ending.

After 200 hours of work, the door was completed and ready to assume its place as guardian of the museum.

"It was a fun piece." Gardner said. "It was kind of a compilation of all the things I've done. It was exciting when it came together."

With the installation of the door, the only thing that can remain was to name the door.

"The Museum of the Door" was the appropriate name given by Mrs. Ferguson.






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