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Model, Architectural, Prescott Patent Hanging Door, Salesman’s Sample, Antique, Boston, c. 1880s


Prescott Patent Truss Door Model
Prescott Manufacturing Company, Boston, Massachusetts: c. 1880s
Wood, metal, and gold paint
11 x 18 x 2.25 inches

Salesman’s sample miniature model of a Prescott Patent Truss Door, a hanging sliding door. It was designed to allow smooth operation of heavy sliding pocket doors in a variety of large industrial and agricultural buildings such as warehouses, factories, and barns. The model is constructed of wood and metal, and is stenciled on both sides with the company’s name and address. One post is also stenciled “Outside Doors Hung to This Casing.” Hanging doors were the only product of the Prescott Manufacturing Company, which was established in Boston in 1880. They also produced versions for interiors where a more finished look was desired.

Product description continues below.


In advertising copy appearing in an architectural trade journal the company stated:

The “Truss Hanger” is particularly designed for use upon barn, stable, depot, or storehouse doors, or in any place where elegance of finish is not desired, the hanger being exposed to view. […] Invented at first chiefly for barn doors, it has since been found far superior to any device known for sliding-doors of factories, sheds, warehouses: doors of the largest size are moved with the greatest ease.

The inventor, Edwin Prescott, incorporated the Prescott Manufacturing Company in Boston in 1880, and began marketing and exhibiting Prescott Hanging Doors, for which he was awarded a U.S. patent in 1882. The invention allowed for sliding doors to hang on a single track or on overlapping tracks, either on the inside or outside of a building. Prescott stated in his patent application that he envisioned their use in pier houses, freight houses, and other places where cargoes or loads of freight had to be transferred such as factories, stables, barns, and warehouses, and this became known as the Truss Hanger. The company also marketed “Balance Hangers” and “Brace Hangers” for interiors such as “parlors in public buildings, closet doors or in any place where it is desirable to have the hanger entirely concealed from view in order to secure a handsome finish.” Since no track was needed at the bottom, even heavy hardwood doors could “be opened or closed with surprising ease and perfectly noiseless movement” and glide above carpeting, according to the company’s promotional materials.

Prescott Hanging Doors won awards at numerous agricultural and industrial expositions in the Northeastern United States between 1880 and 1881. By 1885, a profile of the company in a Boston business directory noted that the factory was producing 1,800 hangers per month, with thousands of the hangers in use in public buildings, hotels, residences, churches, passenger elevator doors, as well as by department stores, railroad companies, factories and cotton mills. The directory noted that Prescott’s invention had already been widely adopted and the company had agencies for sale of its hanging doors across the U.S. Presumably models like this one were distributed to these sales representatives to demonstrate the operation of the door.

Edwin C. Prescott (1841-1931) was a prolific inventor based in the Boston area, said to have obtained over 100 patents. The best known of these are Prescott Hanging Doors and the Loop-the-Loop roller coaster. With the money he made after the success of the hanging doors, he moved to Arlington, Massachusetts, where he became a civic leader and real estate developer. Prescott Street in Arlington is named for him.

Condition: Generally very good, device is complete, in good working condition, and with lettering on both sides substantially intact and very readable.


Duffy, Richard A. “Prescott Street.” Gannett Co. 14 August 2008. (9 January 2020).

“Hanging door. US259716A.” Google Patents. (8 January 2020).

“The Prescott Manufacturing Company.” Leading Manufactures and Merchants of the City of Boston: And a Review of the Prominent Exchanges. International Publishing Company, 1885. p. 198. Online at Google Books: (8 January 2020).

“The Prescott Patent Door-Hanger.” American Architect and Building News: Advertisers’ Trade Supplement. No. 6. 5 August 1882. pp. 1-2. Online at Google Books: (8 January 2020).

Additional information


19th Century