Norman Tolkan, Door Store Founder, Dies at 87

Door Store founder Norman Tolkan died Dec. 8 from pneumonia at the age of 87.

Tolkan’s Door Store was on M Street next to Georgetown Tobacco and had a warehouse at Wisconsin Avenue and K Street. The furniture was famous for its Breuer-style chair (cane back and seat with a tubular metal frame). Many still have some of those household items, precursors to the likes of Ikea. Tolkan and his late wife Constance founded the Door Store in 1954. At its height, the business had 75 stores and then declined and finally closed in 1995. Tolkan still ran a business — Homeward, Inc. — which specialized in replacement pieces for those famous chairs. He had worked for the State Department before his retail business, knew several foreign languages and graduated from Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service. He is survived by his son, Victor K. Tolkan, his daughter-in-law, Julia A. Springer, three grandchildren and his sister, Helen T. Greenwald.

Dave Roffman, retired editor and publisher of The Georgetowner, wrote to his old publication about Tolkan: “He was one of the founders of the Georgetown Business Association, along with Rick Hinden of Britches, Arnie Passman of Georgetown Lamp Gallery and John Laytham of Clyde’s. They held their first meeting in the upstairs office of Britches of Georgetown. I attended that meeting as the only member of the press.”

In a New York Times obituary, Tolkan was called “his own man, self-made, colorful, idiosyncratic, intensely private and honorable.”

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