In less than a week, Boston will take a gander at what life was like in the city more than 100 years ago.
Archivists from the Bostonian Society, the entity that runs and maintains the Old State House and Old State House museum near Downtown Crossing, announced that operators of the studio restoring the lion and unicorn statues taken down from the building last month will soon be opening up a time capsule found buried inside of the lion’s head. The box was first placed inside the statue in 1901.
Heather Leet, the Bostonian Society’s director of development, said Skylight Studios owner Bob Shure would gently crack into the treasure trove stuffed inside of the crown of the lion statue during an event in Woburn on Thursday, October 9, at 11 a.m.
“We will remove the lion’s crown and remove the box from the head. We know that the box is secured by a couple of bars to the inside of the head, but Bob Shure believes it will be easy to cut those and retrieve the box,” Leet told Boston. “We have not opened it yet, although we are all tempted to.”
Unfortunately, due to the size of the studio space in Woburn, the event will not be open to the public, but a small pool of reporters, politicians, and historians will be on hand to keep people informed about the small-scale ceremony. Leet also said the contents of the time capsule, which allegedly contains newspaper clippings, pins, and a letter to the “future” Boston, all dating back 113 years, when the box was secured inside of the lion’s head after the copper statues were built, would not be removed because of their age.
“They won’t take anything out of the box as is, because the archivists are worried that the newspapers in there, and because of the material of the paper, it could get damaged,” said Leet, adding that the box will be opened to reveal what was left inside, so people at the event can take photos.
After the opening, the Bostonian Society will take the box back to their headquarters at the Old State House, where the organization’s in-house archivist will sort the documents and trinkets, and make sure they’re protected, before they eventually go on display inside of the museum for public view.
“We are estimating it will take about a month to sort through and stabilize everything, based on previous experience,” said Leet. She said the items should be accessible sometime in the late fall. Digital versions of all of the materials will also be made available, so those who can’t make it to Boston can still enjoy the city’s rich history.
With the shoe-box sized container removed, Shure will go to work at his studio to restore the statues, adding new coatings of silver and gold on the lion and unicorn, before the Bostonian Society slips in a new time capsule full of items from Boston in its current state. They will then reinstall the two life-sized fixtures back up on the building.
Historians are currently contemplating what they should put inside of the lion’s head when they replace the current time capsule, so that in 100 years people can get a feel for what 2014 was like in Boston. They are taking suggestion online using the Twitter hashtag #LionandUnicorn.
Source URL: https://www.bostonmagazine.com/news/2014/10/01/old-state-house-lion-head-october-9/
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