Brass Knob Back Doors Warehouse closing in November

By Jura Koncius
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, October 21, 2010

Brass Knob Back Doors Warehouse, a major Washington source of salvaged architectural, plumbing and building parts, is closing its vintage French doors in November. Owner Ron Allan says the rent on the 24,000-square-foot property at 57 N St. NW has become prohibitive. In addition, the economy, the extreme weather and the city's shift to modern condos have slowed sales in the business Allan likens to a "Victorian Home Depot."

Allan started in salvage in 1981, when he and a partner opened a store in Adams Morgan. Allan eventually spun off the larger pieces -- bathtubs, radiators, mantels and such -- into a separate business. The warehouse's closing does not affect Brass Knob Architectural Antiques, which remains open on 18th Street NW.

Throughout the years, Allan has stocked fragments from historic buildings such as Woodward & Lothrop and Pamela Harriman's Georgetown home.

The warehouse is a mother lode for the interior design and architectural community, whose members forage the packed rooms for paint-encrusted columns and mahogany doors.

"I am devastated," said D.C. designer Darryl Carter, who bought barn doors, shutters and hinges there. "This place has been so inspirational to me. It's very much part of the DNA of my work."

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