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What's the story behind Waukesha State Bank's vault door?

May 18, 2011

The vault door at Waukesha State Bank's downtown branch is huge, heavy and hard to miss. At 18 inches thick and weighing in at 65,000 pounds, the steel vault door has long been an icon for the bank.

When the bank's downtown branch was built in 1956, founder Carl Taylor wanted the building to feature a traditional vault door. The trouble was, the type of door that Taylor had in mind was no longer being made.

Taylor eventually purchased an existing door from a property owner in Cedar Falls, Iowa, according to bank marketing director Traci Huntemann-Piatt. The vault door, which had been built in the early 1920s by the Diebold Safe and Lock Company, had been used in a building that had previously housed a bank.

The door's owners gave it to Taylor at no charge, with the stipulation that Taylor would simply have to remove it, which itself was no small task.

Waukesha State Bank now uses the vault behind the door to house its safe deposit boxes. The vault door is opened at the beginning of each day and stays open until closing. A jail cell-like gate located just inside the round vault door remains locked all day, opening only for customers to access their safe deposit boxes.

As old as the vault door is, the door required its only major repair work in 1990, when the bearing on the door's lower hinge was replaced, Huntemann-Piatt said.

What do you want to know? E-mail your questions to nowyouknow@wi.rr.com.

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