Metro

Old State House time capsule opened, but contents a mystery

The mystery of the time capsule inside the head of a golden lion statue on Boston’s Old State House will linger for a little while longer.

With a host of reporters handy and the rapid rat-a-tat of camera shutters, the Bostonian Society Thursday morning opened the capsule that had been sealed and hidden in the statue for more than 100 years.

A bright, red hardback book surrounded by paper was revealed. But to the disappointment of the assembled onlookers, that’s all they got to see. The society said it would not immediately unpack the contents of the capsule.

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“It’s in remarkably good condition,” said the Bostonian Society’s archivist, Elizabeth Roscio. “It’s much cleaner than I was expecting.”

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Roscio said the contents were too tightly packed to be removed on the spot, and said she will begin the process of removing and preserving the materials Tuesday. She hopes to be finished by the end of next week.

“I’m absolutely delighted with the condition of the materials inside the box and surprised that there are some unexpected things,” said Bostonian Society President Brian J. LeMay.

The capsule was opened at a private ceremony in Woburn.

The shoe-box-sized copper box was removed by Bob Shure at his studio. Shure, the sculptor in charge of restoring the lion, removed the 8-foot-tall lion’s crown and pulled the box from its head.

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The box was opened during a 5-minute-long process with hammers, drills, and wire cutters.

The capsule was officially discovered in September. It was removed from atop the Old State House last month for restoration.

Materials from the time capsule will be on display at the Old State House later this fall. By the end of the month, the society hopes to have compiled a new time capsule to be placed in the lion before it is put back on top of the building.

According to a 1901 Boston Globe article, the capsule contains photographs, autographs, and sealed letters from politicians and prominent Bostonians of the time, along with old newspaper clippings.