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Brick Vault History



The brick structure was historically referenced to as a Dead-air Vault.

The term 'dead-air' refers to the empty spaces left within the walls of the vault. This building method prevented contents from damage in the event of fire. The term 'vault' refers to the vaulted ceiling construction.

The vault construction began in 1890. At the same time in history, the Diebold Lock and Safe Company was adding magnesium to steel vault doors. It helped strengthen them against the criminal methods of the era.


Who Built The Vault?

Henry Watkins Laugenour

Henry Watkins Laugenour

Born in 1869 - Dunnigan, California.


He was the second son of Yolo County pioneer, John D. Laugenour. His Mother was Emma C. Watkins.

In 1890, H.W. Laugenour constructed a new store building on Main Street, Dunnigan. The new building also had a vault built within the store to establish a savings bank. The construction of the store and vault were completed in early 1892.

P.T. Laugenour Building Vault Arch Diagram


2013 "Interior Views By T.A. White"


In late 1892, Henry W. Laugenour traded his store, (known as: Laugenour and Company); for his brother, Phillip T. Laugenour's, Woodland home. Both properties were valued at $15,000.

Phillip, (who was better known as P.T. Laugenour); changed the name of the store to P.T. Laugenour General Merchandise (as seen in the photo above).

P.T. Laugenour was a well known Yolo County banker and Colusa County cattleman. He was the President of the Winters Savings Bank in Winters, CA - and one of the founders. He was also a founding member of the Woodland Elks Lodge.

P.T. Laugenour and his wife, Kate (Jones) Laugenour, were also historically known for their land contribution allowing for the Dunnigan Union Church to be built in the 1890s. P.T. Laugenour was the President of the Dunnigan Union Church Committee as well.

Six Years Later, in March of 1898: Tragedy struck.

1898 Dunnigan Fire SFCall

The store and other buildings burned by the fire were never rebuilt. The Laugenour Banking Company was officially dissolved by 1925.

The dead-air vault today shows the evidence of building collapse and blackened bricks from the fire it endured over 100 years ago.


1890-1898 Woodland Daily Democrat News Clips:



Henry W. Laugenour Find-A-Grave Memorial

Historic Dunnigan (By P.B. Perazzo)

1879 Dunnigan Area Lot Map

1908 Dunnigan Area Lot Map


Please note that the bank vault is located on private property. No public access is permitted except by authorized personnel. Photos taken with property owner permission.

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