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(Update) Historians crack open State House time capsule, find book

The State House time capsule was carefully opened on Thursday to reveal a red hardcover book surrounded by paper, but the mystery lives on, because archivists declined to remove the book from the copper box.

A Boston time capsule was opened Thursday in Woburn. Photo: Nicolaus Czarnecki, Metro A Boston time capsule was opened Thursday in Woburn. Photo: Nicolaus Czarnecki, Metro

Update: The State House time capsule was carefully opened on Thursday to reveal a red hardcover book surrounded by paper, but the mystery lives on, because archivists declined to remove the book from the copper box.

The rest of the contents will be removed by late next week, according to the Bostonian Society.

"..As of now all we know that is in the box is optimistic that the contents are in good condition," said Heather Leet of the society.

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Earlier version:Relics from the turn of the 20th century may see the light of day after being sealed up and tucked away for more than a century in the head of a copper statue.

Members of the Bostonian Society on Thursday will open a time capsule that was recently discovered within the head of a 113-year-old lion statue that sat atop the Massachusetts Statehouse. The statue was removed in mid-September, along with a copper unicorn statue, for restoration.

Regardless of what is found inside the aged box, the Bostonian Society intends to collect items for a newState House time capsule.

Sculptor Robert Shure of Skylight Studios in Woburn carefully removes a copper time capsule from the head of the State House lion. Photo: Nicolaus Czarnecki, Metro Sculptor Robert Shure of Skylight Studios in Woburn carefully removes a copper time capsule from the head of the State House lion. Photo: Nicolaus Czarnecki, Metro

Suspicions of a time capsule were raised in 2011 when a descendant of carpenter Samuel D. Rogers sent the Bostonian Society a letter he wrote in 1901 describing the box's placement and its contents.

Sculptor Robert Shure of Skylight Studios in Woburn located the box using a fiber optics camera in late September. After days of carefully opening a natural seam on the lion's head, Shure was able to retrieve the blue-black box.

"I drilled a little hole in the top of the crown, and low and behold there was a box," said Shure, who is tasked with restoring the historic statues. "I was just as surprised as anyone else."

What could be lurking in there?


A Boston Globe article from Feb. 24, 1901 describes the time capsule, saying it would "prove interesting when the box is opened many years hence."

The report claims the box houses photographs and autographs of the politician of the time, including the governor and the mayor, as well as letters and newspapers.

"We are excited but also a little nervous it will be filled with moldy paper," said Leet.

The discovery has piqued the interest of history buffs in Boston and beyond.

"Time capsules tell a story about the people of the time period," said Heather Leet, director for development at the Bostonian Society. "It's like leaving a snapshot of your time period for the future."

The group plans to insert a new time capsule into the lion's head before it is replaced at the top of the State House in November, and has collected hundreds of suggestions on what should go inside.

A Boston Marathon runner has offered his 2013 medal to commemorate the victims and survivors of that day's deadly terror attack.

"That is the only item we've accepted so far," said Leet. "We thought it would be a great way to honor the people involved in the 2013 race."

Other items that may go in the new time capsule include an iPhone 6, a local newspaper, a photograph of Boston Mayor Martin Walsh, and letters from notable people.

The Bostonian Society is collecting suggestions through the end of October.

Follow Morgan Rousseau on Twitter: @MetroMorgan

Follow Metro Boston on Twitter: @MetroBOS

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