When Washington DC native Ron Allan began collecting doorknobs in the early 1970s, he never imagined that one day his collection would become the inspiration for two successful businesses.
In 1981, Ron and longtime friend Donetta George combined forces – and their shared passion for restoration and design – to found The Brass Knob, Washington’s premiere source for unique architectural antiques. Ron’s collection, paired with Donetta’s design and business background was the perfect equation for the store, which they opened that very same year.
Ron and Donetta opened The Brass Knob in a renovated townhouse on 18th Street in the Adams Morgan neighborhood of Washington, an area then known for its antique stores. The Brass Knob’s selection of hard-to-find chandeliers, lighting, hardware, mantels, and all types of architectural ornaments proved an instant hit among Washingtonians and national designers.
For a few years, larger architectural pieces were stored off-site and sold only by appointment. As the demand for these items grew, Ron and Donetta decided to open another location to hold large volumes of doors, bathtubs, radiators, and fencing, as well as other large-scale salvaged house parts. As a result, Ron and Donetta opened the 20,000-square-foot The Brass Knob Back Doors Warehouse in 1991. Ron and his crew salvaged much of the inventory at The Back Doors Warehouse directly from buildings and homes in the Washington area.
The Brass Knob Architectural Antiques and The Brass Knob Back Doors Warehouse became two separate businesses in 2005. In 2011, Ron Allan decided to retire. The Back Doors Warehouse was closed in the spring of 2011. The Brass Knob Architectural Antiques remains in business supplying local home owners and design professionals with an array of unique items for home and business.
With varied backgrounds in antiques, design and restoration, The Brass Knob’s knowledgeable staff is available to answer any questions you might have about our merchandise.
Donetta was a student of interior design when she co-founded The Brass Knob in 1981. A former partner in a travel marketing business, Donetta decided to combine her love of beautiful objects with her business background by opening a store to sell architectural antiques. She is responsible for purchasing all of The Brass Knob’s merchandise, as well as a myriad of other marketing and operational tasks.
An antique collector since he was 10 years old, Kirk joined The Brass Knob in 1988 after leaving a career in banking to work with another architectural antiques dealer. Kirk specializes in restoring lighting, hardware, and mantels to their original state. Dedicated to helping customers find “just the right object,” Kirk is completely self-taught in restoration, learning through direct experience and practice -and always with an eye toward authenticity.
A retired electrical engineer, Wayne specializes in the repair and restoration of lighting fixtures, as well as assembling and repairing antique hardware. Wayne has been an employee of The Brass Knob since 1995. A long-time homeowner of turn-of-the-century homes, Wayne credits his restoration knowledge to hands-on experience.
Bella is the newest employee at The Brass Knob. A recent graduate of the GWU Corcoran School of Art and Design. She received a Bachelor’s degree in Art History, with an emphasis on the decorative arts. Bella helps manage The Brass Knob social media and catalog, as well as assisting in sales and managing the inventory.