The Lock Museum of America is proud to offer the largest collection in the world of locks, keys, and ornate hardware.
Our museum features 8 display rooms including our popular Escape Room.
The Eagle Lock Room
Lock manufacturing in Terryville started in the 1830s when Eli Terry, Jr. converted his clockmaking business to making locks at his factory on Main Street. The shop was powered by the Terryville Water Wheel, located next to the Pequabuck River. The Water Wheel still stands today and is on the National Register of Historic Places.
In 1854, Eli’s son, James Terry, formed the Eagle Lock Company, which became one of the preeminent lock manufacturers in the United States. At its peak, the company employed 1,700 people.
This room features padlocks, combination locks, trunk locks, cabinet locks, Post Office locks, and even cue stick locks manufactured by Eagle Lock.
Other displays on the 1st floor include colonial locks, automotive locks, railroad locks, and collections of rare and unusual locks donated by individuals.
The Plymouth 175th Anniversary Room
An expansive collection from various donors of lock memorabilia ranging from the invaluable to the eccentric.
The Harry Miller Bank Lock Room
Harry Miller was the owner of Sargent and Greenleaf, a manufacturer of security devices for businesses, banks, and governments. This room houses his collection of locks for vaults, safes, and banks.
Of special interest is a 1930 lock that sprayed tear gas in the face of a safecracker.
The Yale Lock Room
In 1865, Linus Yale, Jr. invented the pin tumbler lock which revolutionized lock making. The original patent model is on display. Pin tumbler locks are still widely used today. This room features locks made by the Yale Lock Company in Stamford, Connecticut.
The Corbin Russwin Room
In 1902, the Russell and Erwin Manufacturing Company of New Britain, merged with the P. & F. Corbin Company, also of New Britain, to eventually become the Corbin Russwin Company, located today in Berlin, CT.
From the late 1800s through the 20th century, the Corbin Russwin Company was the preeminent manufacturer of ornate door hardware. Their doorknobs and door plates can be found in hotels, colleges, government buildings, and homes all over the United States, if not the world.
Their catalogs included a full range of casted bronze and brass door hardware – knobs, backplates, cabinet latches, pocket door pulls, escutcheons, mortise door locks, and doorbells. Skilled artisans used the process of hydraulic casting, in which molten bronze was poured into sand molds and hydraulic pressure was applied to set the pattern. Teams of filers and polishers made the finished products gleam.
The intricate designs included geometric patterns, flowers, and animals. These everyday household items that we take for granted were works of art.
Doorknobs and hinges that were enameled were extremely decorative. The process of “enameling” involved heating metals with glass chips and other chemicals, which then melted and produced a shiny, colorful surface.
These goods were expensive to produce and their use was limited to the houses of very wealthy people.
Some enameled doorknobs were also gold-plated. The finish on these enameled pieces lasted for a lifetime.
The Bristol Savings Bank Room
This room is named after the bank that generously donated to the founding of the Museum. It includes items from the Sargent Lock Company of New Haven, CT., prison locks, automotive locks, and ornate door hardware from the Russell Erwin Company. There are also emergency exit door locks, which today we take for granted, but were unknown in the 1800s and early 1900s when people were killed in horrific fires in factories.
The most unusual lock in this room is made of wood. It is 4,000 years old and is from an Egyptian tomb.
The Kevin and Miriam LeVine Room
Kevin LeVine was a locksmith in West Hartford, CT who wanted to donate his collection to the Museum. Unfortunately, the building did not have enough room, so he donated funds for an addition to display his items.
This room has a 7,000 pound cannonball safe, a circa 1600s Armada trunk made of wrought iron that looks like something Harry Potter would use, antique handcuffs and leg irons, and a display of time locks.
Time locks have a clock within the lock. They are used in bank vaults. Inside the lock are clocks that are set to only allow the safe to be opened at a predetermined time. This thwarts bank robbers from breaking in after hours to try to open the vault.
The Antique Lock Room
This room has medieval locks dating to the 1500s. These “warded” locks were handcrafted by blacksmiths and were opened with what are colloquially called “skeleton” keys.
230 Main Street
PO Box 104
Terryville, CT 06786
We are officially closed for the 2023 season. We reopen in May 2024.
However, you can call 860-480-4408 to schedule a special visit or for more information.