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Debate rages after mysterious tiny doors found in home

The doors are only the height of a soft drink can and wild theories about their uses have emerged online.

One woman's bizarre find in a heritage home has sparked a great debate over what it could be, and the theories are pretty wild.

The confused woman said two mysterious tiny arched doors cut out of the wall were found in a house recently purchased by her mother-in-law. A photo shared online shows a small latch keeping one of them closed.

"My MIL bought this house built in the early 1900s in Denver. On the first floor, there are these two doors," she posted on Facebook. "One leads to the basement, and the second leads outside from the kitchen. They are very small, about the height of a soda can. Any ideas?"

Tiny door found in a Denver home.
Mystery surrounds the tiny doors found in a 1900s heritage home in Denver. Source: Facebook

The unassuming door had people puzzled, sparking over 4,000 comments debating its potential purpose.

Theories on what tiny doors may be

Several wild theories have since circulated in the post's comments, from fantasy ideas to more practical uses, with thousands sharing their thoughts on why the tiny doors were created in the first place.

Some speculated they were built as fairy doors for young children, while others said they were for heating and cooling or used for a drainage system.

"Fairy doors!!! I used to clean a really old house, and they had fairy doors in random rooms. It was so neat," one person commented. "I suspect it would be for ventilation or heating/cooling. Wouldn't that make the most sense?" theorised another.

"I wonder if it leads to outside [and] it was actually used for sweeping, and in lieu of a dust pan, tidbits go outside?" a third person asked.

Tom and Jerry escape door?

Dozens of people also referenced the 1952 children's fantasy novel The Borrowers saying the doors were the perfect size for the tiny family in the story. Many also referenced the popular cartoon Tom and Jerry, saying the door could lead to the home of a mouse.

After much discussion, the general consensus was the tiny doors were old-fashioned cat doors to allow them to go from one area of the house to another or outside. Despite the tiny size, many said they had seen cats get through them quite easily, allowing them to move freely to another part of the house.

A timber tiny door with a brass knob.
The whimsical doors sparked much speculation online with many puzzled about what they could be. Source: Flickr

"If it's actually the height of a soda can, then it's a cat door," one person said.

"In the early 1900s 4"x 4" holes called 'Cat Flaps' were cut out indoors for the sole purpose of allowing cats to go room to room in order to keep the mice population under control. My grandmother grew up in one of these homes and told me stories of this," agreed another.

But others still argued they were used for more practical purposes.

"It is not for cats, fairies or the borrowers. It is for the exhaust from a Maytag washing machine equipped with a gasoline engine," one person suggested. "Many houses didn't have reliable electricity at this time so a gasoline engine would have been utilised to run the washing machine."

Do we have these strange doors in Australia?

While many said they had never come across the unusual quirks before, others confirmed that they, too, have one of the strange doors in their home. "I have one in our laundry room from the kitchen," one person said. "We have one, too," confirmed another.

Aussie heritage expert Scott Lucas says the bizarre find is very unlikely to be found in Aussie homes.

Pictures of small doors in other homes used by cats.
Several people shared photos of similar doors in their own home which showed their cats easily getting through and keeping their other pets out. Source: Facebook

"I've renovated several properties from the early Victorian period through to the 1920s, inspected approximately 200-300 period properties in rural and city areas across Australia, and have never seen anything remotely similar,” he told Yahoo News Australia.

Despite the many theories, he says the most likely use of the doors would have been for practical rather than aesthetic purposes.

"It's difficult to know for sure the purpose of these doors, but I suspect they are utilitarian in nature. The key difference between old houses in the US and Australia is the inclusion of full basements," he said. "They almost always had them in the US, whilst in Australia, they sometimes included a cellar instead, which are not really usable spaces like the US basements."

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