Safe cracker John Lorquet opens a safe that has been locked for nearly 50 years at the Aldredge House. (Photo courtesy of Harryette Ehrhardt.)

By Henry Tatum

The champagne was chilling on a table nearby. The cameras were ready and waiting in anticipation. The wall safe at the historic Aldredge House on Swiss Avenue was about to be opened for the first time in nearly a half century.

Would there be jewelry or money? Would there be important documents from an earlier time? Or would there be nothing?

As Jon Lorquet, founder of Dallas Safecrackers, completed his task after an hour and a half and swung open the door of the small safe in the home’s master bedroom, the answer quickly became clear — nothing.

The Dallas County Medical Society Alliance Foundation, which has owned the home since 1974, never had the combination to the wall safe and always wondered what was inside. On Monday, the alliance found out when Lorquet drilled a small hole in the safe and ran a probe in to determine the settings of the lock. The safe was empty.

“It was just a fun experience,” said Harryette Ehrhardt, a member of the medical society. “We didn’t really expect anything to be in there.”

Thom Aldredge, grandson of Rena Munger Aldredge, who donated the house to the medical society, was on hand for a special reason. Aldredge and his wife were married in the house in 1980 and have never been able to find a diamond tiara she wore for the wedding. He was hoping it might be in the safe. It wasn’t.

“If we found the tiara, we definitely would have given it back to Thom,” said RuLan Hebeler, chair of the medical society’s Aldredge House Committee. “But if we had found a million dollars, it was ours.”

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