Copycat resident turns to Reddit for help opening a decades-old safe

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An old safe found in the Copycat Building. Photo by Spencer Grundler.

Spencer Grundler’s reason for wanting a safe is, unfortunately, practical.

The freelance film and TV worker’s apartment in the Copycat Building was broken into while he was away camping. A safe, he thought, would be a great way to store some of his camera equipment, and he didn’t have to go far to find one.

“It’s been in the hallway there for as long as I can remember,” he said. “People have just ignored it.”

Sitting out there was the 4-foot-tall black safe, covered in dead batteries and trash. On the dial is the name Sargent and Greenleaf, a company that still exists today, and patent dates going all the way back to 1860. There’s also an oval-shaped sticker for a company with a Greenmount Avenue address, City-Wide Safe and Lock Co.

Now the trick is getting it open.

Grundler found out City-Wide Safe and Lock Co. still exists, only now in Halethorpe, so he gave them a call.

They knew a lot of details about the safe, placing its origins to the early 20th century, but no longer had anyone on staff to service it. City-Wide put him in touch with another guy, but Grundler has so far only been able to talk with the man’s associates. They say it will cost $400 to drill into the safe and open it up, but Grundler would still prefer for it to be functional.

A close-up of the dial on an old safe found in the Copycat Building. Photo by Spencer Grundler.

So he turned to Reddit, the hope being that someone out there in the vast world of the internet has a vast knowledge of old safes, or maybe there’s a person out there who worked in the building during its industrial past.

“I’m just trying to see if there’s anyone who has some good information,” he said. “I don’t know, maybe someone who worked at the Copycat printing press knows the combination or has it written down somewhere.”

As nice as it would be to find a bunch of cash inside, Grundler said he isn’t expecting to strike it rich. But he is hoping to find something of interest.

“I’m hoping it’s not empty–an old photograph, someone’s phone number or a letter, something like that would be cool.”

If nothing else, there’s still the hope Grundler will get a place to safely store his valuables if he can figure out the combination, or find someone who can get it open without damaging it.

“Apparently it works very well,” he said with a laugh, “because I can’t open it.”

Brandon Weigel

Brandon Weigel

Brandon Weigel is the managing editor of Baltimore Fishbowl. A graduate of the University of Maryland, he has been published in The Washington Post, The Sun, Baltimore Magazine, Urbanite, The Baltimore Business Journal, b and others. Prior to joining Baltimore Fishbowl, he was an editor at City Paper from 2012 to 2017. He can be reached at [email protected]
Brandon Weigel


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