Secrets of the Old State House: Time Capsule Hidden in the Lion’s Crown to be Opened October 9

Posted October 8, 2014 by Kayla Baker in Downtown Boston
Boston Old Statehouse

At Skylight Studios, a complete service sculpture studio in Woburn, Massachusetts, studio owner Bob Shure has been tasked with restoring the iconic lion and unicorn statues that sit atop Boston’s historic Old State House. Bob set out to begin adding coats of gold paint to the statues earlier this month, but an interesting discovery halted the restoration process; nestled in the crown of the lion, Bob found a shoebox sized copper box. The box is none other than the rumored Boston time capsule that dates back to 1901.

There has long been a rumor that the citizens of Boston placed a time capsule in the Old State House’s lion statue 113 years ago. The Boston Globe published an article on February 24, 1901 that alluded to the existence of a copper box inside the lion’s crown. For years the existence of this time capsule has been a source of debate, but now that the rumor has been proven true, Boston residents are eager to see what our city’s past inhabitants left for us to discover.

The revealing of the time capsule will take place at Skylight Studios, at 105 Salem Street in Woburn, at 11 am on Thursday, October 9 and will be overseen by archivists from the Bostonian Society, the group that manages the Old State House and Old State House Museum. Due to the small size of the studio, only approved members of the press, politicians, and historians are able to attend the event. However, press members will be allowed to take photos of the time capsule reveal and will be keeping the public informed of the findings via social media as the opening transpires.

Anyone interested in viewing the finer details of the capsule contents will have to wait a few months, though. Due to their age, none of the items will be removed from the capsule on October 9, as archivists are worried about potential damage. After the initial opening event, the time capsule will be transported to the Bostonian Society headquarters, where archivists will remove all the items safely and figure out how to protect them properly. Once every item inside the box has been identified, researched, and preserved, they will be put on display inside the Old State House Museum so that Boston residents can examine and enjoy the relics of life in 1901 Boston. The Bostonian Society hopes to have the capsule contents available to the public by the end of the year.

In the meantime, the Bostonian Society is taking suggestions for items to include in the new time capsule that will go inside the restored lion statue. The society has already decided to add a medal from the 2013 Boston Marathon to the capsule, but the other contents will be up to the public. Bostonians can submit their suggestions for items that capture the essence of the city in 2014 by using the hashtag #LionAndUnicorn on Facebook and Twitter. Perhaps a Red Sox pennant from the 2013 World Series will be included to showcase our sports team victories, a Best of Boston list to highlight the variety of food and entertainment residents get to enjoy, or maybe bottles or labels from the growing list of local microbreweries that are springing up across the city. There are many things to celebrate about Boston’s current state, and hopefully whatever is chosen for the new capsule will be as interesting to Boston residents in 2114 as the 1901 capsule is to residents now.