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Invention of the Upward-Acting Garage Door

Celebrating Inventor C.G. Johnson

In honor of Inventor’s Day, we’re looking back at the invention of the upward-acting garage door by Overhead Door Corporation’s founder, C.G. Johnson.

garage door  (Pictured: Original Upward-Acting Garage Door)

As the car worked its way into society, the first garages were similar to modern-day parking garages, but only on one level. Because cars were considered such a luxury item, very few people had them and typically kept their vehicles in these communal parking garages. Gradually, car owners began storing their cars in what was closer to what we know of garages today, a small carriage house close to home. However, unlike modern garages, the originals had a double door attached to the garage with strap hinges and opened outward. These doors suffered heavy wear and tear from being opened so frequently and were practically inoperable when blocked by snow.

garage door  (Pictured: C.G. Johnson)

In 1921, Overhead Door Corporation founder C.G. Johnson invented the solution to solve this garage door issue — the first upward acting garage door. Partnering with attorney Forest Mckee of Hartford Ciy, Indiana, the company starts its first plant in Detroit, a 1,000-sq.ft. building with a production capacity of one door per day. After acquiring a patent, C.G. Johnson and his wife spent the next few years touring the country with a miniature upward-acting garage door mounted on the back of a Model T Ford truck signing up distributors. In 1923, while stopped at an Indiana trade show, a local enthusiast was impressed by the garage door and offered Johnson a factory site. Johnson agreed, and in 1924 the factory moved to Hartford City, Indiana with a new plant of 200,000 sq. ft. of manufacturing space allowing mass production of upward-acting garage doors. Three years later, Johnson invented the first electric garage door opener with Herbert Cady Blodgett and together they formed the Door Control Company in Hartford City, Indiana, later adopting the name Overhead Door Company of Hartford City.

garage door  (Overhead Door™ Envy™ Model 956 Aluminum Door)

More than 95 years later, Overhead Door™ brand is continuing the innovative legacy set forth by Johnson. Last year, the Overhead Door™ brand introduced the Envy™ Model, an all-glass frameless garage door that received high praise from the nation's leading architectural firms when it won Architectural Record’s 2017 Product of the Year for its innovation, usefulness and aesthetics.

We look forward to more decades of new innovations! ​​​See photos of our full line of garage doors or design your own garage door​.


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