State House Time Capsule Contents to Be Revealed

The box dates back to the 1700s, and contains artifacts placed by Paul Revere.

Image via Museum of Fine Arts

Image via Museum of Fine Arts

Tonight, state officials and workers from the Museum of Fine Arts will unveil the contents of a time capsule that was excavated from a granite cornerstone at the State House on Beacon Hill in December.

The box, which is said to contain relics dating back to 1795, and was placed in the stone by former Governor Samuel Adams, Paul Revere, and William Scollay, has been in the care of the MFA since it was removed from the building’s stone on December 11, by Pamela Hatchfield, a preservationist for the museum.

Workers recently did an X-ray of the box, which weighs roughly 10 pounds, and revealed what is believed to be silver and copper coins, an engraved silver plate, a copper medal depicting George Washington, newspapers, the seal of the Commonwealth, cards, and a title page from the Massachusetts Colony Records lodged inside.

The time capsule, which will be opened at 6 p.m. at the Museum of Fine Arts on Tuesday, was first placed in the cornerstone in 1795 before it removed around 100-years later. “It was previously unearthed in 1855, when the contents were documented and cleaned. At that time, additional materials were added to the capsule, which was then placed in a brass container and returned to the State House, where it was plastered into the underside of a massive granite cornerstone,” according to MFA officials.

Hatchfield spent seven hours chipping away at the stone after it was removed from the corner of the building with the help of engineering firm Simpson Gumpertz & Heger, and Walsh Brothers Construction. The MFA worked in conjunction with the state’s Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance, and Secretary of State William Galvin’s office to provide conservation consultation and services for the project at no cost, before they eventually X-rayed the time capsule’s contents.

The time capsule’s removal came just one month after historians from the Bostonian Society discovered a much larger capsule inside the crown of the lion statue that sits atop the Old State House. The contents of that time capsule were preserved and put on display before officials filled a new box with items, and stuffed it back into the sculpture for residents to discover in another 100 years.