What Should Boston Put in a Time Capsule at the Old State House?

Historians and preservationists want it to be unsealed by descendants ‘in the next century,’ they said.

Keytar Bear’s mask? Images from the filming of Ted 2? A blue or white lobster would be perfect, but that’s animal abuse. Perhaps a plastic bag from Market Basket and a Dunkin’ Donuts cup are more appropriate.

When considered, the possibilities for what historians and restoration experts could slip into a lock box slated to be placed inside of the lion that sits on top of the Old State House when it comes down this weekend are endless.

But that’s exactly the plan.

According to Brian LeMay, president and executive director of the Bostonian Society, the non-profit group that manages the Old State House downtown, after the lion and unicorn descend from their perches on Sunday, September 14, and head to a studio in Woburn to be reguilded and repaired, a time capsule filled with iconic objects that best define the city in its current state will be placed inside of the lion’s hollow body.

“[We will] perhaps also [be] re-sealing it, with present-day materials for our descendants to unseal in the next century,” LeMay told Boston in an email, when plans to fix up the unicorn and lion statue were first announced in August.

The Bostonian Society said in a latter statement that they were prepping the new time capsule for the lion so it would be ready in time for re-installation, along with the unicorn, in October.

The current statues, which are made from copper—the lion is covered with a 24-carat gold coating, and the unicorn is dusted with a silver hue—have been on the roof of the building for more than 100 years, and are the third replicas of the originals placed there in 1713.

The idea to place a time capsule with contemporary objects inside of the lion, to be opened in years to come, stemmed from a Boston Daily Globe article written in 1901. In the article, reporters indicated that there was a time capsule from the turn of the century tucked away in the lion’s head, holding newspapers, photographs, and election-year memorabilia from that era.

The rumors have varied about whether or not there truly is a capsule from the 1900s inside, but the article printed at the time when the relics were first restored and placed back up on the Old State House, the city’s longest surviving public building, told a very specific story:

The work of the coppersmith is completed, and one of the last things he did was to seal a copper box, which is placed in the head of the lion, and which contained contributions from state and city officials, the Boston Daily newspaper, the name of the makers of the lion and unicorn, and others, will prove interesting when the box is opened in many years hence.

If that’s the truth, the Bostonian Society can’t wait to get their grips on it and sift through the “treasures inside.”

And, thanks to a story previously run by Boston, the group was “inspired…to make the opening of the presumed time capsule something of an occasion.”

But one big mystery remains: what should the historic documents be replaced with so that people hundreds of years from now can get a feel for what city life was like in 2014?

That’s up for debate.

  • Roger Stacey

    How about a copy of the Best of Boston issue?

  • Rick McGrath

    Need to add a Boston Strong Ribbon