For Safe Keeping: Removing a Century-Old Bank Safe from Little Italy

Posted on: November 8th, 2018 at 5:00 am by

Photo: Janine Coyne/Italian American Museum

In anticipation of imminent demolition, the Italian American Museum on Grand Street in Little Italy is relocating some of its treasures. For safe keeping. Namely, the multi-ton safe that dates back over a century.

This past Monday, workers from the Acme Safe Co. removed the unique artifact from the vault of 185-189 Grand Street, which was once-upon-a-time headquarters for Banca Stabile. The bank formed in 1882 to accommodate the Italian immigrants who settled the neighborhood that would eventually be called Little Italy. This safe is part of that history.

Banca Stabile would eventually close in 1932.

Photo: Janine Coyne/Italian American Museum

In recent years, this low-rise corner of Grand and Mulberry Streets has been home to the Italian American Museum. The institution owned the building and tried forever to cash out. That deal finally came along last year, and with it, a footprint and free rent in perpetuity. (There had also been some previous local backlash from preservationists about the museum’s longtime plans.)

Removal of the safe is just the next step in the property redevelopment. Indeed, Oved Group and Nexus Building Development Group purchased 185-189 Grand Street in February 2017 for roughly $15 million. Their plans call for a 75-foot-tall building that boasts twelve condos (averaging 1,500 square-feet apiece), as well as a permanent presence for the museum on the Mulberry front.

Photo: Janine Coyne/Italian American Museum

The museum is to occupy 6,000 square-feet across four floors, and will include both permanent and temporary exhibitions, plus a 50-seat auditorium for film screenings, lectures, theater performances, dance recitals, and meetings.

It should open sometime in 2020 with the safe on display.

Photo: op.AL

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