1795 time capsule uncovered at the Massachusetts statehouse

The time capsule at the Massachusetts Statehouse was originally placed by Gov. Samuel Adams and Paul Revere, the famous rider.

By Frances Burns
Massachusetts State House in 1974. UPI File Photo
Massachusetts State House in 1974. UPI File Photo | License Photo

BOSTON, Dec. 11 (UPI) -- A time capsule originally buried at the Massachusetts Statehouse in 1795 was being brought to light for the second time Thursday.

The capsule was placed under the cornerstone of the building by Sam Adams, the Revolutionary leader who was then governor, joined by Paul Revere and William Scollay, a Boston businessman.


Officials decided to unearth the capsule because a water leak in the area has possibly damaged the fabric of the building and the capsule. It was dug up in 1855 during similar emergency repairs.

The original cowhide container, which had deteriorated over the decades, was replaced then.

The Museum of Fine Arts has been given responsibility for opening the capsule and preserving its contents, which are believed to include coins from the era and from 1855. Officials plan to open it next week.

"As soon as the box is freed from the stone, we will show the box, then send it to the MFA, they will X-ray it over the weekend and open it sometime there next week," Secretary of State William Galvin told CNN. "The contents are of concern, but the plaster that held the box in place is in good condition."


Galvin said no decision has been made on whether to put the time capsule back with new items from the 21st century.

"What we know the box contains, based on the notes that we have, is a Paul Revere plate, papers, and coins from the 1600s. It may contain other stuff too, we don't know that yet," he said.

Adams, one of the most prominent leaders in Massachusetts during the Revolution, served four terms as governor. Revere, best known now for his celebrated midnight ride was a leading silversmith and businessman whose company supplied the copper sheathing for the Statehouse dome in 1802, while Scollay gave his name to Scollay Square, the heart of Boston's red light district until it was destroyed by urban renewal.

The Statehouse, designed by Charles Bulfinch, replaced the Colonial-era building now known as the Old Statehouse. A time capsule was discovered two months ago inside the statue of a lion on the Old Statehouse roof.

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