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‘Safe’ and sound: Beautifully restored antique now graces Loretta!

‘Safe’ and sound: Beautifully restored antique now graces Loretta!

We have a distinguished, new “resident” here on the third floor of Loretta!

It’s a gorgeously restored antique safe, which was originally found in the basement of the original farmhouse at Tallgrass Trail, a rural Horace, N.D., farmstead that was homesteaded by Swedish immigrants back in 1870. (Kilbourne Group founder Doug Burgum purchased this farmstead in 1995.)  The beautiful old safe is now displayed against a zinc-shingled wall in the shared office space of Kilbourne Group and the Land Elements landscape architecture firm.

Hopefully it will stay there a spell, as it weighs 700 pounds and requires an Egyptian Army to move (or simply P2 Industries restoration expert Larry Larson and his assistant, once they’ve had their Wheaties!)

Placing the Safe

In order to fully appreciate this old piece, you need to know about some of the Herculean effort it required to restore it. The safe, which we think is from the early 1900s, had a mighty hard life, and it showed. It stood in flood waters in 1997 and was heavily encrusted with rust. The interior, Larson says, was even more deteriorated than the outside.

Historic Safe

Historic Safe Detail

Never one to back down from a challenge, Larry and his team used a wire-wheel grinder to remove the rust from the piece’s surface. The finish of the safe had become incredibly thin and fragile after years of oxidation, so he didn’t dare use a more aggressive cleaning method like dry-ice blasting.

Safe Interior

The interior of the safe, as pictures show, is now gorgeous. All the little cubbies inside have now been lined with a period-appropriate crushed red velvet and the safe’s original pin-striping and brand name, “Cary Safe Company, Buffalo, N.Y.,” were meticulously restored by Butch Anton at Superfrog Signs & Graphics in Moorhead.

According to Wikipedia*, the company manufactured and sold bank vaults, cabinet safes, safe deposit boxes and various types of locks from 1878 to 1929.

Every safe was heralded as fire- and burglar-proof. A majority of Cary safes had letters painted according to purchasers’ requests in the upper portion of the safe. (Unfortunately, if this safe did once contain personalized lettering, you could no longer see it.)

After grinding away the rust, Larry then added layers of clear coat to the entire safe to preserve the patina for years to come. Upon closer examination, you’ll find all sorts of cool details, including the remains of gold leaf on the outer four corners of the safe’s front.

Safe Detail

Even transporting the safe from Larry’s shop to Loretta was a bit of a project. It required a skidsteer to remove the bulky behemoth from Larry’s trailer, which was parked right on Broadway.

Transporting the Safe

But it was all worth it when we saw the safe in its rightful place on third floor. And now it is home at Loretta, “safe” and sound at last!

*This article was based on past Cary Safe advertisements and a former Buffalo business directory.

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