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Chatham County Historical Association

Preserving and sharing the history of Chatham County North Carolina

Chatham Courthouse Safes

20 May 2022 4:23 PM | Chatham Historical Museum (Administrator)

Among the treasures in the Historic Chatham County Courthouse are two safes built in to one of the original courthouse fireplaces. The safes have an interesting story. They came from the Bonlee Bank and Trust Company, which opened in 1917 with Isaac H. Dunlap as president and C.M. Andrews as cashier. Mr. Andrews became president in 1924.

The bank folded during the Great Depression and the county obtained the two safes and installed them in the courthouse where they were used to store cash payments until they could be deposited. The safes were used until the time of the fire in 2010. They were manufactured by the Mosler Safe Company in Hamilton, Ohio.

At one time Mosler was said to have safes in 80% of US banks. Some of their most famous contracts have been with the United States Government. In the 1930s, at the height of the Great Depression, Mosler safes were bought by the Federal Reserve to store massive gold reserves. When Fort Knox was constructed, it included vaults and emergency doors from Mosler Safe. The company supplied blast-proof doors that weighted over 20 tons, were made of torch and drill resistant materials and both doors were over 21 inches thick; the vault casing was also over 25 inches thick. Mosler also made the doors for nuclear missile silos, the vault that formerly held the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution, and shielding doors for the Atomic Energy Commission’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

So, the Bonlee Bank and Chatham Courthouse appear to have had the very best available when it came to safes!

Thanks to CCHA volunteer Charles Thomas for the Courthouse safe info.

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Chatham County Historical Association  ~   ~  PO Box 93  ~  Pittsboro NC 27312  ~  919-542-6222  ~  

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