Century-old safe opened in Downtown Ardmore

Published: Dec. 15, 2021 at 6:06 PM CST
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ARDMORE, Okla. (KXII) - A century-old safe in Downtown Ardmore was finally opened after being locked and rusted shut for 30 years.

Sam Daube is the oldest living member of the Daube family. He said the Ardmore Emporium, the building that houses the safe, used to be the Daube’s downtown department store and the office for their ranching and oil businesses.

“In the early days, in the 20s like through the Depression and everything, this almost served as the bank of Ardmore, in those days,” Daube said.

In the 90s, the combination was lost to time. For the past thirty years, no one knew how to get in or what was inside.

Building owner Tim Longest said other locksmiths didn’t want to try because there might be a capsule of poison or tear gas near the lock mechanism-designed to stop potential thieves from getting inside.

“It’s been either too expensive or too dangerous because of the gas that’s possibly inside,” Longest said.

In November, they called a Gainesville locksmith who was willing to drill a small hole near the dial. He ran a camera through and worked the combination backwards.

Through a combination of skill and perseverance, Longest said they finally got it open.

“There wasn’t much there,” Daube said. “When we left thirty years ago we pretty much got everything out.”

A second, smaller safe, which was also empty.

“That’s where anything of value had been kept,” Daube said.

Mostly the safe had dust, along with blueprints to the building and some old bags.

“We believe the primary blueprints to the building,” Longest said. “Not totally intact, some of them had water damage but we’re gonna do something with framing those or preserving those.”

Longest said the bags would have held money back in the day.

“To touch them and feel them, you kinda get a sense of the history of how much money would be stored in those bags over time,” Longest said.

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