A small but energized crowd gathered on Boston Massacre Plaza Sunday morning, eager to catch a glimpse of Boston’s iconic lion and unicorn statues, which will once again shine from high atop the Old State House.
The 113-year-old duo recently underwent a two-month renovation that coated them with real gold and palladium.
“It’s nice to see them on-site finally and back home where they belong,” said Lisa Benson, the daughter of Skylight Studios conservator Robert Shure, who led the restoration. “We’ll miss them, they’ve been such a presence in our workshop for a couple of months now. But it’s going to be really great to have them be enjoyed by everyone in Boston.”
Though dazzling, their exterior wasn’t the only thing that drew curious onlookers. The Bostonian Society, stewards of the building since 1881, inserted a new time capsule into the lion, with a variety of materials proposed by the public. Shure placed the new copper box inside the gilded scroll that forms the base of the lion statue.
In September, historians discovered a time capsule from the turn of the 20th century within the lion’s head. It contained sealed letters, photographs, and newspaper articles as well as a wooden piece of the original lion statue from the 1880s.
But this time around, historians opted to include: an Apple iPhone 5, donated by Patrick LeTourneau; a 2013 Boston Marathon medal and the biography of its donor, Gregory Soutiea; tickets to the April 20, 2012 Fenway Park Centennial Boston Red Sox game, donated by Peter Loring; and a David Ortiz limited-edition bobblehead, donated by the Boston Red Sox There are also several essays and letters, among them, a note from former Metro Boston reporter Steve Annear, who now writes for Boston Magazine.
Historians also included a photograph of former Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, who died last month, as well as pictures of current Mayor Martin Walsh and Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick.
“We had a lot of people over the last two months who made suggestions locally in Boston and worldwide. From there we figured out which ones we could fit, and what would be the most appropriate choices for the city,” said Heather Leet , Director for Development at The Bostonian Society. Leet hopes
Bostonians who crack open the time capsule in a century will see “a personal side of our history.” “I think that’s what time capsules are all about. They show a side to the city and its people that you don’t always get from history books,” said Leet .
“I hope they get a better understanding of our time here in Boston.” Alla Webster, of Newton, watched as the statues prepare to be hoisted to their perches on the main east façade of the 300-year-old landmark building. Like many standing on that corner yesterday, Webster was stumped when asked what else she’d have liked to see in the new time capsule.
Then it occurred to her: “Considering climate change, perhaps an aerial photograph of the city,” said Webster, “The Back Bay, for example may very well be under water in 100 years. It would be interesting for them to see how the city itself has changed.”