Masonry workers discovered what appears to be a 121-year-old time capsule on Wednesday as they were dismantling the remnants of a pedestal that once held a statue of the Confederate President Jefferson Davis.
The Jefferson Davis monument on Monument Avenue in Richmond, Virginia, was pulled to the ground by protesters in 2020.
Crews have been working to remove the pedestals of the confederate statues that were taken down for the past month.
The apparent time capsule found this week is likely the third one recovered from the Confederate plinth on Monument Avenue, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported.
In December, a time capsule was found inside the former base of the Robert E. Lee statue when crews dismantled it.
There’s also reported to be a time capsule beneath the Stonewall Jackson statue, which could be found in the coming days, the paper reported.
Michael Spence, construction supervisor for Team Henry Enterprises LLC, measures a time capsule that was found below where the statue of Jefferson Davis once stood on Monument Avenue in Richmond, Virginia
A capstone covered the capsule, that is located where the statue of Jefferson Davis once stood on Monument Avenue
A statue of Confederate President Jefferson Davis towers over Monument Avenue on September 15, 2017 in Richmond, Virginia. It was pulled down by protesters in 2020
Crews have been working to remove the pedestals of the confederate statues (including the one of Confederate President Jefferson Davis pictured in 2017) that were taken down for the past month
A crane lowers a piece of the column from the Jefferson Davis Monument to a truck bed on Monument Avenue in Richmond on Wednesday
Part of the column from the Jefferson Davis Monument sits on a truck bed being readied for transportation in Richmond
The copper box found Wednesday, and its contents, will be handed over to the Black History Museum, which will also receive all the Confederate statues, a spokesperson for Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney told the paper.
Dennis Duarte, a mason foreman for Connecticut-based Summit Masonry, has spent the past two weeks in Richmond dismantling the Confederate plinths.
Duarte told the paper that when he cut the box from the concrete, its lid swelled up like a bubble. He estimated the box weighed about 20-25 pounds.
According to newspaper records, the box is said to contain relics of the Civil War, masonic tradition and Richmond history, including: a ‘Guide to Richmond, Va. and the Battle-fields’ by Carlton McCarthy; a $100 Confederate note; the Daily Dispatch and Richmond Times newspapers and a ‘polished chip of marble from the front step of the Jefferson Davis mansion,’ now known as the White House of the Confederacy.
‘These things are indicative of the Lost Cause mythology and how it had grown in the 30 years after the Civil War,’ said Christina K. Vida, a curator for the Valentine Museum.
She added that the items represent the views of wealthy white people in the South and the opinions of Black Virginians weren’t included.
Historical conservation experts in Virginia’s capital opened a time capsule in December that was found in the remnants of a pedestal that once held a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, finding books, coins, ammunition, documents and dozens of other artifacts.
Pictured is an illustration of a man mourning the death of Abraham Lincoln at his grave, pictured in an edition of Harper’s Weekly from April 25, 1965
Officials initially searched for the capsule after removing a controversial statue (above) of Confederate General Robert E. Lee in September, but were unable to find it at the time. The true capsule was discovered after the pedestal was removed
Another artifact is displayed from the box opened in December that appears to be the true 1887 time capsule
Records maintained by the Library of Virginia suggest that dozens of Richmond residents, organizations and businesses contributed about 60 objects to the capsule, including Confederate memorabilia
Waterlogged coins had to be carefully separated from paper relics by conservators as they processed the materials
The box appears to be the true 1887 time capsule filled with Confederate trinkets, after another container discovered earlier was revealed as a stunt apparently left by the monument’s builders.
However, the real time capsule did not contain the rare photo of President Abraham Lincoln in an open casket as historians had hoped, instead bearing an illustration of the assassinated president’s gravesite.
Records maintained by the Library of Virginia suggest that dozens of Richmond residents, organizations and businesses contributed about 60 objects to the capsule, including Confederate memorabilia.
The lead conservator for the Virginia Department of Historic Resources, Kate Ridgway, said that the measurements and material of the copper box match historical accounts.
A pile of rubble is all that is left after the removal of the pedestal that once held the statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee on Monument Ave., Thursday Dec. 23, 2021, in Richmond
Crews wrapping up the removal of a giant pedestal that once held a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee in Richmond have found what appeared to be a second time capsule
Virginia Governor Ralph Northam in December tweeted photos of a box being removed from the site and said conservators were studying the artifact
The second box (above) was discovered a week after the first box pulled from the pedestal was found to be an apparent ‘vanity project’ inserted by the stonemason