The letters of the door knob look like a Sans Serif condensed font.

Did you know that the New York City public school system used to have its own custom made cast brass doorknobs? We found this one last Thursday at Torrisi, a restaurant in Nolita. Curious about the relic, we were excited to see Ephemeral New York just posted an article about the doorknobs two days ago on where to find them.

These doorknobs date back to the the Progressive Era and were installed in the late 19th and early 20th century. The New York City Board of Education started to offer free secondary public education in 1896 and put forth an ambitious plan to modernize the designs of schools. Superintendent Charles B. J. Snyder designed almost 350 schools, predominantly in the Gothic style like Erasmus Hall. 13 have been landmarked by the city

According to NYC Department of Education, Snyder also referenced “French Renaissance for Wadleigh Secondary School; Beaux-Arts for High School of Commerce (now demolished but formerly located at Sixty-fifth Street near Broadway in Manhattan; 1903); Dutch Renaissance for DeWitt Clinton (now John Jay College; 1903); and Collegiate Gothic for Morris High School (renamed Morris Educational Campus; 1904).”

The manufacturer of the doorknobs is believed to be Connecticut manufacturing company SARGENT, once known as Sargent & Co. You can find these doorknobs for sale online on EBay, Etsy, and vintage stores like Demolition Depot and Olde Good Things.


  1. Lt. Awesome says:

    those are awesome… i used to see them all the time when i was a fire alarm technician in a lot of different schools. most older schools have them, especially in manhattan and the bronx. they’re very solid too. they’ll survive WW3 and probably WW4!!

  2. Edward Dubin says:

    I taught at jhs i66 bklyn fron 1962-1991. T he knobs were made of aluminum
    , from the same mold that was used for the brass knobs. My school was built at the end of the 50,s. The knob that you have at the top of this blog is an aluminum knob. Ed Dubin

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