The Historic Black Metal Door, facing students in the halls. No one will really know the true purpose of this vault. Photo by Joseph Howitt

If you ever find yourself walking by the medical center on the main floor, you will surely notice the ominous heavy metal safe door in the wall, standing out in our school’s modern interior. Though it states in faded letters, “NOT A MONEY SAFE” on the door, it very well could be a money safe. The door is historic, with it being put in the school in 1914—the time that the school was opened. It is one of the biggest mysteries here at Franklin, and has been pondered for many years throughout all grades. 

Speculation has created some very educated guesses on what could possibly be contained in The Vault. Though it seems like an exciting and mysterious vault door from the outside, the story behind it is actually incredibly mundane. Before it’s revealed, there must be educated guesses about the vault’s contaminates. 

Benjamin Franklin’s Remains

Benjamin Franklin was believed to have been buried in Philadelphia, but that very well could be false, given as it is likely his remains are in our vault. It is unknown how we may have acquired his remains, as he was such a popular figure in American history. But given that our school is named after Benjamin Franklin, it’s not a very wild guess that his final resting place is amongst our halls. This tomb of the man on the hundred dollar bill would most likely go viral throughout the entirety of the U.S, so it’s no surprise that it hasn’t been revealed yet, as our high school would become famous nationwide overnight.


The writing on the safe creates the perfect place to hide millions of dollars in Franklin High School gold, as no one would ever think to look in our wall vault for money. It is likely that the school had put its savings into the vault, to keep safe from robbers that roamed the city of Portland back in the day, and steal the gold piled up. This is a very dangerous idea, as if it was true, there is surely a multi million dollar Franklin treasure that is now hidden somewhere in the school.

The Franklin Nacho Recipe

Everyone here knows about the mountain of nachos that we consume every lunch period, and how valuable the secret recipe is, similar to the recipe of Krabby Patties from SpongeBob. If this information gets into the wrong hands, there could be a mass panic amongst the people that are in charge of the lunch here at Franklin. The importance of keeping the nacho recipe secret is astronomical, as it upholds the basis of a student’s nutritional supply here at Franklin. The vault door is more than capable of keeping intruders out, so we shouldn’t worry anytime soon about the safekeeping of the recipe, and can still produce the famous nachos every lunch that Franklin students enjoy.

The Original Detention Room

As surprising as it sounds, things were very different back in the day at Franklin for almost everything. One of the things that for sure was put in place was the punishment of students for bad behavior, usually through detention. While it is not clear if this practice is still used amongst teachers at Franklin today, there is some speculation that during this time period of early 20th century high schooling, unfortunate kids that were misbehaving were locked in the Franklin Vault for an unspecified amount of time. This is not proven, but is likely, as the inside of the vault is room enough for about 4-5 students. What makes it so important is that there is a possibility of the vault still being in use, and the kids that are staying home “sick,” are really locked in there for detention.

As likely as these guesses are, they are unfortunately all false. The real reason the door was put in comes down to one thing: nostalgia. With the door being installed when the school was first opened, the original purpose was much more boring. Administrative assistant Jill Register shared the answers about this mystery. “The placement is new, the door is original to Franklin High School’s original build in 1914,” Jill states. “The current purpose is solely for visual effect and nostalgia. It’s a cool old door and it was a part of the office. It also went in the spot of the student store door,” she writes.

 There was originally talk of disposing of the door, but Joyce Gago, Alumni room head, had other ideas. “She insisted that the door was a part of Franklin History and it should stay,” Jill said. “That is how it came to be near the medical center. The original purpose was a safe/vault for the safekeeping of both money and office type documents as this was a small room encased in cement. In later years, it was simply a storage space utilized in the main office. A padlock was installed many years before when the combo lock failed to work. The coveted colored paper supply was in there, the Rose Festival Crown and Cape were kept in there. We kept the keys and special occasion supplies in there as well. Every night it was locked up and every morning it was unlocked,” she writes. It turns out, it was originally used, to a certain extent, as a money safe, so the door is in fact lying to us. With it being used as a safekeeping area for slightly historic things such as the Rose Festival Crown and Cape, not a lot is still in it. In fact, nothing is behind the vault door other than two newspaper clippings, and a time capsule. “When we did the renovation in 2016/17 we kept the door for historical purposes. We relocated it down by the old student store and put a time capsule in the wall and used the old vault door to seal it in,” Steve Matthews (previous business manager of Franklin) states. 

The next step of this investigation would be to look more into the time capsule that is supposedly in the walls of the safe. Unfortunately, the safe is usually locked, and we do not have the combination, only some of the Franklin staff does. It is doubtful that they would want to share their secrets to the public, as the time capsule could have documents of significant historical importance, such as the location of El Dorado, or the Holy Grail. Or maybe some pictures of the past student body. Whatever it is, when it is discovered, there will surely be another article.

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