Monday, February 8, 2016

Ambridge memorabilia: American Bridge Company safe

When an employer shuts down, employees may take a few mementos before the doors close forever. I've seen people end up with all sorts of things with the business' name on them, things like letterhead and envelopes, pens, matchbooks, ashtrays, coffee mugs, and memo holders.

Not too many employees go big and go home with a memento that's 38 inches wide, 30 inches deep, 75 inches tall and weighs somewhere between 3,000 and 5,000 pounds.

When American Bridge closed down its Ambridge office in 1983, Dawn Patrice Fisher Wilson took home the office safe that had been in the office's basement. What a beauty!

American Bridge Company safe
photo courtesy of Dawn Patrice Fisher Wilson

Here's Dawn's story:
My grandfather and my dad both worked at American Bridge from a young age until retirement. I got my love of history and preservation from my dad. He always loved that safe.
My grandfather was a blacksmith, and he started in 1917, retired in 1958. Dad was a draftsman for most of his career. He started in the plant in 1950. Sometime later, American Bridge asked for volunteers to attend drafting school at their expense. Dad was one of the volunteers and became a draftsman. He retired in 1983.

I started with USS in the financial management associate program in 1981. I was assigned to the Ambridge Plant first, then the Shiffler Plant in Lawrenceville for one year. I was transferred to the USS Chemicals Division and assigned to the LaPorte TX plant in 1984 when American Bridge was shutting down.
The safe wasn't always tucked away in the office's basement. But my dad never lost track of it. The basement door and stairs were facing, I think, 4th St. Grandfather and Dad lived on Park Road, so they would use that entrance often. 
The plant manager at the time the office was about to close stated that I could have the safe if I was able to get it out of the basement the next day. My dad hired a local company, Greens Moving, I seem to recall, and they were able to move it to his home located in Cranberry Twp. A two ton safe is not something a younger person living in an apartment while being transferred to different parts of the country can easily transport. Dad has kept it in his basement all of these years. Unfortunately now is the time that the safe must be relocated. It will be coming to Texas shortly.

You can see the sad end of the Ambridge American Bridge Company office building in my February 28, 2014, article, "The American Bridge office building: going...gone!"


  1. jd aka john domansky

    dawn, when i 1st saw the safe on facebook i made the comment below,

    John Domansky Sr. what a most beautiful piece of ab co, history, just try to picture in your mind what was inside of it over the 100 yrs it was around, if it could only talk??? i wonder what it sold for if it sold at all??

    now i add to that comment, i am so happy to see the safe has a good home, also wish you the best, regards, john