Time capsules

There are stories about kids burying treasures and then forgetting where exactly they dug the hole and never digging it up.  But I remember one from an old episode of “NCIS” when the best friend of Gibbs’ deceased daughter tells him about a box they buried.  Gibbs digs it up and finds a picture and some childhood treasures.  And how many stories have you read about time capsules put in corner stones or in monuments and then forgotten?  But when one is actually found it is exciting.

I’ve looked at the gold statues on top of the Old State House in Boston for 20 years.  The last 8 years I was working I probably looked up at them every day.  I had no idea that one of them held a time capsule.  This morning I saw this story in the Boston Globe.

It’s confirmed, Boston. A time capsule has been found in the head of the lion statue that has been sitting atop the Old State House for more than a century.

An iconic statue of a lion atop the Old State House on Washington Street in Boston was hoisted down from its rooftop perch for restoration.

An iconic statue of a lion atop the Old State House on Washington Street in Boston was hoisted down from its rooftop perch for restoration.

This time capsule had also been forgotten.

Rumors swirled last week about the possibility of the long-forgotten time capsule, which was reported in a Globe story from 1901.

“We [the Bostonian Society] didn’t know about the Globe article until several years ago,” [Heather] Leet said.

A descendant of one of the statues’ original sculptors found a letter that revealed the existence of the capsule and listed its contents. It was after the society saw the letter that it did research that turned up the 113-year-old Globe story.

The question now for statue restorer, Robert Shure, is how to remove the capsule without damaging the statue.

On Monday, Shure used a fiber optic camera to detect the capsule, which is in a sealed copper box about the size of a shoe box and secured to the sculpture with copper straps, Leet said. According to the Globe story, the capsule contains photographs, autographs, and sealed letters from politicians and prominent Bostonians of the time, along with old newspaper clippings.

Leet said Shure hopes to find a way to retrieve the time capsule with minimal damage to the lion by the end of the week. It is hoped that by next week, the Bostonian Society can have a small ceremony at the Woburn sculpture studio to extract the box.

There are plans to replace the old capsule with a new one.  I trust that its presence will be fully documented.

Globe story by Kiera Blessing

Photograph: DINA RUDICK




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