Honoring the flag
So, the next time you’re in City Hall, please take a moment to glance at Old Glory. And with the Fourth of July coming up, let’s all pay tribute to a living symbol of Beaumont’s history—our stars and stripes forever!
The big vault door almost beckons as you walk into Beaumont Civic Center and spot the safe lodged in the north wall near the glass double doors. The combination dial and heavy metal door with gold leaf lettering bring to mind safecracking scenes from old Hollywood movies.
Have you ever wondered what’s inside the old Cary Safe and what’s it doing in the middle of a well-traveled public hallway? The dial is frozen, and the combination was lost decades ago. Even so, this is one safe that Geraldo Rivera won’t need to crack.
This is a mystery with an answer. Geraldo, who came up nearly empty-handed years ago when he cracked Al Capone’s safe on live TV, would come up short again. Capone’s safe had some dirt and a few empty bottles; the safe inside the Civic Center is just the vault door. There is nothing behind it, except a small bit of wall space.
Few people know that little secret in small-town Beaumont, yet they keep trying in vain to open the safe; children and adults stop in the hallway, glance around, reach for the combination dial, tug on the handle, and hope for the best.
Actually, Beaumont displays the door because it’s a piece of local history and a bit of Americana. The venerable Cary Safe Co. was located in Buffalo, N. Y. around 1900 and made safes for companies all across the country. Today, collecting, restoring and trying to open the old safes is a big hobby with a wide following on the Internet.
The history of this safe began in 1928 when today’s Civic Center opened as Beaumont High School. The plans included a very secure concrete vault room, further fortified by a heavy door manufactured by the Cary Safe Co. For decades, the vault room and its heavy door remained hidden away in the Finance Department. Several years ago during some remodeling, the vault room was torn out to create more work area. But city officials couldn’t part with the old safe door. So in keeping with a city that loves its past, Beaumont had the vault door displayed for everyone to see. When Beaumont celebrates its centennial in 2012, the old Cary Safe will be part of the many pieces of history that tell the story of our hometown.