We can always count on ABC 7's Wayne Freedman for the oddity and human-interest pieces over at the station, and today we get the story of a concrete-encased, long-ago locked safe that the owner of the River Theater in Guerneville recently discovered hidden in a side room.
Theater owner Jerry Knight had no idea the safe was there until he brought in contractor John Obertelli to help with some renovation work. And as he tells Freedman in the segment below, the safe was made by the Hermann Safe Company, a San Francisco outfit that's still in business as Hermann Associates which also made safes for the San Francisco Mint.
And not only is it locked tight and impenetrable by drills, it was sealed in place by rebar-laced concrete. Its onetime owner clearly didn't want anyone to be able to haul it off anywhere, given its small size.
As of Tuesday, Freedman reports, Obertelli and Knight managed to "budge, tilt, teeter, totter, and then crash [the safe] onto a cart," having spent a few days hammering and drilling the concrete casing around it.
What's inside, no one knows. Knight jokes, "Twenty dollar gold pieces. Silver dollars? The deed to the town?" But it very well might be empty.
If there is treasure inside it could benefit Knight and his fundraising effort to repair the old theater, which was badly damaged in February's floods. As Knight explains on a GoFundMe page (where only $4,300 has been raised of a needed $125,000), "The theater is a multi-level structure, and the water filled the dance floor, the stage, the sound booth, the middle floor and up into the lobby. The damage is catastrophic."
The theater began as a movie house in 1947, and as the Press Democrat explains, it "went through several incarnations as a concert hall and nightclub, starting in the ’80s." Knight touts the fact that as a music venue, it hosted the likes of Buddy Holly, Frank Sinatra, Emmylou Harris, and the Jerry Garcia Band. Its last active nightclub use was as as the gay dance spot Club Fab, which closed in 2005, and it's hosted frequent concerts in recent years. Knight, who had a career as a studio and concert sound engineer dating back the 1960s, bought the theater in 2010, installing a state-of-the-art sound system was was destroyed in the flood.
Does anyone still believe in forgotten, hidden treasure?