Johnson & Wales University unseals vault after over 30 years

DENVER - Opened for the first time in over 30 years, a vault in a university building in Denver revealed a treasure-trove of old yearbooks and records.

Johnson & Wales University Denver has hired safecrackers to try to get into the Cary Safe Company vault in Centennial Hall in the past, but Thursday was the first time one was successful. The lock he had to crack was patented exactly 108 years ago -- the date May 22, 1906 was stamped on the end of the dial.

After slowly and cautiously cracking opening the outer door, the safecracker used a fiberoptic camera to peer inside before moving on to open the inner "day" door.

With both doors open to the 4-by-8-foot vault, an archivist was able to review well-preserved yearbooks dating back to 1914. They also found old student and financial records that haven't been seen in decades, like a ledger for the Colorado Women's College W. E. Porter Building Fund dated 1944.

Johnson & Wales University Denver decided to crack open the safe as part of the ongoing $30 million renovation project for Centennial Hall and a neighboring building.

"Our worst case scenario is there was nothing in there so we just completely freaked out when we saw what was in there," said campus president Robin Krakowsky.

Centennial Hall was the first building in the Colorado Women's College and dates back to the early 1800s.

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