The History of Garages

In the 20th century, the world saw some amazing advancements. Along with other variations and innovations, this was also the time when automobiles also started to gain popularity. After the release of automobiles into the market, people from the upper spectrum were the first ones to use them due to their high price.

Outbuildings – The Modern Garage’s Ancestor

With the use of automobiles for transportation, there was also a need to store them safely. As these were only bought by the elites and not everyone was able to afford the automobiles, a need to secure them was present.

People had been using outbuildings in the past to store their buggies and horses. Automobile owners soon realized that they could use these carriage houses for keeping their automobiles as well. Outbuildings also served as storage rooms for all tools related to transportation. People sensed this opportunity and soon gave spaces on rent within their converted carriage houses. These converted carriage houses then became common for keeping automobiles. This solved the problem faced by the elites of at that time.

However, this solution also gave rise to an obvious problem, as some of the converted carriage houses still had livestock within them. The automobiles were kept next to all the horses and buggies. As a result, the users were very upset when their brand new cars starting stinking of animal manure.

With time, automobiles become affordable for more and more people. Thus, the need for storage spaces also increased. The earliest vehicles had different storage requirements, unlike those that we see today. Even now, every car has a different and unique requirement; for instance, gasoline-powered cars have different storage needs from electric ones.

The Earliest Garages

The first garages that were built looked like an enclosed parking space. They were buildings that were heated and only had one level. This type of structure was able to provide parking spaces for up to a hundred automobiles.

These garages were owned either privately or publicly. The owner took care of the garage’s cleanliness and orderliness to keep their consumers satisfied. However, one of the common problems encountered by consumers was the expensive cost. They were required to pay $15 to $20 for storage. That was a significant amount of money at that time and is still considered a hefty fee for parking today. Obviously, this setup was not convenient for many consumers. Moreover, in 1910, there were already a lot of automobiles which couldn’t be accommodated by these storage facilities. The need for a better solution and space for storage was still around.

In order to solve this issue, the garage door was invented. Garage doors were cut into different sections and were hinged at internal parts. This design allowed for folding around one corner, which made the garage spacious. To further ease the matter, overhead garage doors were developed by C.G. Johnson in 1921. Doors were further improved in 1926, with the invention of the electric garage door opener. This was truly a convenient innovation for many automobile users. People who had trouble lifting their garage doors were now immensely relieved.

In the 1950s, there were several additional improvements conducted by the company of Emanuel Mullet. Wayne-Dalton, which was a merger of this company and another plant, introduced the latest technology used in garage door openers. These innovations included bottom brackets that are tamper-resistant, doors which are pinch resistant and several other useful innovations.

Garage doors constantly improved as new materials were discovered. Today, garage doors are a lot better when it comes to insulation and safety aspects. Garage doors are beneficial assistive home components that provide safety and convenience to a lot of automobile owners.

The Beginning of Modern Garages

A new kind of outbuilding was created by an architect in 1912, which would be called a garage now. Essentially, the garage door for this building worked like a barn door. It was built with two doors that were placed in front of the garage. Strap hinges were also used, which opened outward.

These garages looked like basic sheds and did not have much durability to withstand certain conditions. The hinges were destroyed by rust. They squeaked, while their screws bent and eventually fell out.  Daily use caused some serious wear and tear to the garages as well. It was also difficult to open or close the gates when there was snow. Thus, this was not a viable solution.

Portable Garages

Some economical forms of garages included portable garages. These were made with steel metal or prefabricated wooden sections. The space was only enough to accommodate one car.

Portable garages were usually sold through mail order and were used mostly by people who were living on rent. This meant they could take it along wherever they moved. People who moved to vacation houses for part of the year also found this to be beneficial.

Home Garages

The concept of home garages soon gained popularity, as people wanted to keep their cars closer to themselves. Early home garages looked like carrier houses but were soon transformed. Prices for houses with garages were higher and were bought up quickly.

There were three ways in which a garage is now attached to the house. The first one was where the garage was detached and completely separated from the house; then came the semi-attached ones which were tied to the main building but not physically joined. Finally, there are large multi-use buildings that include not only parking and service areas but other facilities under one roof.

Improvements in Garage Design

One major improvement in garage design was the use of sliding tracks. However, this led to another problem, as these sliding tracks took a lot of space of the structure. This resulted in less space for the garage itself. The design also meant that garages had to be built with more space, which was not possible for many people.

Multiple Uses of Garages

Apart from being used as a storage space for cars, people have now identified various uses for this room. In the past, however, the most common use for the garage (other than parking automobiles) was as housing for domestic staff. Other than that, it was utilized as an area for heating coal, keeping animals, restroom facilities and many other purposes

Now, a lot of houses have more than one garage, some of which also serve as an entrance to the house.  People also use their garage as a way to portray a good image to the people who were visiting their houses.

Reading Up on Garage Doors

Garage doors are a significant aspect of garages but are often neglected. They are regarded as a mundane and monotonous piece with no attention given to them by regular people. However, one can find beauty and identify the uniqueness of this subject if they read up on it.

The art and history of the garage door are quite interesting; for example, did you know that the word ‘garage’ is derived from the French word “garer,” which means to protect or to shelter?  To have a new perspective and insight on this matter, one should consider reading the book “The Art and History of Garage Doors”. You can take a look at this below:


In this work, the author has provided a very realistic and useful detail about garage door which provides a fresh perspective and seems interesting to read. With this book in hand, you might be able to gauge which kind of garage door will work best for your needs. It’s always best to conduct your research before getting a garage door because of security issues as well as aesthetic purposes. These pages will hopefully put you on the right track regarding this important addition to your home.  

Entrepreneurship and Garages

We have seen how big companies like Apple Inc, Google, and The Walt Disney Company started from a garage. Using the garage as a human cave and generating ideas has helped many people to date.

They served as early workshops for the products and services for these companies as well as many smaller ones. The ease of working from home and getting inspiration in their own houses fueled the thinking process of these entrepreneurs, while the relative isolation and peace of the garage gave them enough space to think. Hence, they came up with innovative ideas that gained popularity and are now worth millions.


The transformation from converted carriage houses into the garages that we see today has a long history. Garages have gone through various eras and changes as society developed, with the needs of people being met through these modifications such as storage for auto mechanic tools and other needs. The technological and social trends throughout time influenced the evolution of garages, to the extent that they have now become an integral part of our houses.