I took these photos on Friday, August 9th, 2019. They were taken inside the Richard H. Driehaus Museum in Chicago, near the Magnificent Mile. As a restored 19th-century-architecture Gilded Age mansion, you can bet that the place had some interesting locks. Or at least, you’d hope.
And I think you wouldn’t be too let down. Let’s look at this lock.
This is a pretty basic lock, and I admire it for its simplicity. It’s a simple oval with just enough space for the two screws necessary to affix it to the wooden door. And then a nice little elongated teardrop-shaped knob, perfectly easy to turn with two fingers.
Despite being small, it’s got a good solid appearance to it, not at all weak. It’s a capable little one-sided deadbolt lock, with two simple yet elegant flathead screws.
The doorknob is where the fixtures start to get even more interesting. Check out this elaborate leaf and flower pattern. This is absolutely beautiful! It’s exactly the type of knob you would expect an elaborate old mansion to have. This knob does not disappoint. I would’ve liked that additional screw hole to be occupied, but really it’s not that important.
The knob also has a visible keeper panel set in the doorframe, and you can note the dark streak on it showing that it has definitely been used.
Beneath the knob, you can also see an ornate old keyhole housing. It’s all stuffed up now, and the housing is pretty weathered and worn, but it’s still fascinating to see how they used to treat keyholes. Truly, you don’t see many restroom locks with real keyholes at all anymore. It’s a sign of the times. But it’s a great addition here.
Okay, I know you’ve been waiting for me to get to the elephant in the room – the worn wooden door. We’re saving the best for last here, because wow, this door tells us some serious stories.
Around the lock, you can see some SERIOUS scuff marks. If I were a betting man – and I am – I would bet that there was a different lock here previously. It looks like something with a more circular structure for the housing, and perhaps something that extruded against the door frame – maybe a bolt latch? I mean look at those round marks, all those scratches, and the notch dug into the doorframe. Wow! We can only imagine the lock that used to be here.
The knob is surrounded by its fair share of marks as well, especially on the doorframe above the keeper panel. In fact, the whole door and doorframe look to be at least lightly scratched and pock-marked. This wood has been here for a very long time, so it’s no surprise it’s seen its share of life.
This is only one lock I found in the Richard H. Driehaus Museum. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did!