The practice of the time capsule—putting mementos from the present and hiding them away for future generations to uncover—has been in place for a while. But did you know that even our founding fathers participated in this tradition?
The oldest time capsule in the United States was discovered in Boston by construction workers who were repairing and replacing the water irrigation system at the Massachusetts State House.
Today, Pam Hitchfield from the Boston Museum of Fine Arts braved the cold to chisel away a block of granite and unearth the relic. The excavation was overseen by Massachusetts Secretary of State William Galvin, who told ABC News that he is hopeful the contents are still in good condition.
"We know that some of the items were washed with acid in 1855 because of the humidity," Galvin said. We don’t know if that caused deterioration. We are still hopeful that the contents are in good condition. It’s hard work. Back then they probably had a horse and buggy transport that cornerstone and it is still solid today.”
The 219 year-old time capsule was conceived of by then-Governor Samuel Adams and Paul Revere, and buried in the cornerstone of the building's Golden Dome in 1795. The capsule was originally made of cowhide, but was later replaced by a metal box in 1855 during renovations on the building.
The box has yet to be opened, however, state records indicate that we might find a collection of coins dating from 1652 to 1855, an engraved silver plate from Paul Revere, newspapers, the seal of the Commonweath, cards and a title page of the Massachusetts Colony Records. The capsule is believe to be made of copper or tin and measure 5 by 7 inches.
Officials hope to X-ray it over the coming weekend and potentially open it next week.
"It's exciting," Massachusetts Secretary of State Bill Galvin told the Los Angeles Times. "The history of Massachusetts is the history of America, in many respects."
This wasn't the first time capsule to be discovered in the historic city this year. Back in September the Bostonian Society hoisted down the iconic lion and unicorn statues that perch upon the Old State House after learning about a potential relic hidden within the lion's head.
A descendant of the artist who created it notified the society of its existence in 2011 with a Boston Daily Globe article dated February 24, 1901 and headlined "Copper Box to be Placed in Head of the King of Beasts."
Found within the shoe-sized box were photographs of public officials and workers, a wooden piece of the original lion statue from 1713, memorabilia from Boston-area newspapers and a hardback book titled "Foreign Relations of the United States, 1896."
Officials opted to craft a new-era 2014 capsule to place inside the golden beast, including a 2013 Boston Marathon medal, an Apple iPhone 5, Red Sox tickets and a fragment of a 1713 brick from the building. The statue was returned atop the Old State House building back in November for future generations to uncover.