Good Questions: Mystery Lever in SF Building

Stella sent us a good question: I live on the top floor of an old Edwardian building in San Francisco. At the top of the stairs there is a fairly large lever that goes into the wall and when you pull it, it's supposed to unlock/open the front door at the very bottom of the stairs. I can hear the mechanism working in the wall down by the front door...

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...but it's not actually doing anything.

Does anyone know what this is called or if I can have this fixed?

We can't wait to hear everyone's info on this one! Can anyone help Stella out?

Image: by svilen001 on stock.xchng

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