Historic Bank of Moulton vault returns home to Lawrence County Archives

Bryan Henderson is pictured beside an old Bank of Moulton vault, which was returned to the Archives last week.

An old bank vault, first housed at the Bank of Moulton in the early 1900s, returned home last week after it was discovered in another county building and transported to the Lawrence County Archives on Friday.

Archivist Wendy Hazle said she was contacted by a county maintenance worker on Friday when the vault was discovered in Lawrence County’s former Transportation and Aging Department building, located on Court Street in downtown Moulton.

The maintenance worker, Rodney Lowery, said he was cleaning out the old transportation office after it was recently sold by the Lawrence County Commission.

Though the small metal vault only stands about four feet tall, Hazle guessed the safe weighed more than half a ton and had to call a towing service to get the vault moved to the Archives on Main Street, the same building that once housed the Bank of Moulton.

“They had to slide the safe on its side off the roll-back,” Hazle said. “It’s so heavy that when they stood it up back on all four wheels, you could feel the thud in the pavement.” She said it took Lowery and three others to carry the vault inside the archives building.

Once the vault was inside, she also contacted Lawrence County Historical Commissioner Leland Free and Moulton resident Bryan Henderson, whose father, Robert Henderson, was once the bank’s executive vice president and head cashier.

Henderson was pleased to see the safe returned to its old home, and beamed recalling his father’s work at the old bank.

“He probably opened this safe several times during his time as a cashier,” Henderson said. “When the bank first opened, banks used to keep lots of gold. It’s likely they kept gold in this safe,” he added, speculating the function of the vault during its time at the Bank of Moulton.

Hazle said it was likely the safe had arrived at the bank when it opened on Main Street in 1905.

The three guessed the safe was anywhere from 150 to 128 years old as its manufacturer was the former Halls Safe and Lock Company. After finding the company’s patent engraved in the upper left-hand corner on the vault, Hazle said some quick research revealed the company existed from 1870 until 1892 when it was merged to form the Herring-Hall-Marvin Company. 

“That company was later purchased by Diebold,” Hazle said. “I’m going to contact them to see if they’ve kept any records on the company or their manufactured vaults.”

She said she had also consulted Jeremy’s Lock and Key about inspecting the safe to determine whether its lock will still function after all the years and to determine what steps would need to be taken to maintain and service it.

Following its delivery to the archives building, Hazle said an inspection record was found inside the unlocked vault.

“Apparently the safe was still working in 1951 because that’s the last record of a known inspection,” she said.

The safe will now remain on display at the Archives along with any record of its history the Archives and Historical Commission are able to find, Hazle said.

The Lawrence County Archives, formerly the Bank of Moulton, is located at 696 Main Street, across from Redland Cotton in downtown Moulton.

The Archives is open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. For more information, call 256-974-1757.

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