Almanac, Piece Found in Lee Monument Time Capsule | Richmond Free Press

A rust-colored 1875 almanac, a cloth envelope and a silver coin were found Wednesday in a time capsule that had been buried under a towering statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee on Monument Avenue for more than 130 years.

Another book, tattered with a pink cover, appeared to be an 1889 edition of “The Huguenot Lovers: A Tale of the Old Dominion” by Collinson Pierrepont Edwards Burgwyn. He also appeared in a brochure of some sort.

There were three books in total, all of which appeared to be water damaged. Governor Ralph S. Northam said the books, when dry, will shed some light on what people thought here at the end of the 19th century.

“This is an important day in the history of Richmond and Virginia,” Governor Northam said. “We have 402 years of history. And just to see what was going on at this point in our history, I think, is really important. “

An 1887 newspaper article suggested the time capsule contained Civil War memorabilia and a “photo of Lincoln lying in his coffin.”

An envelope found in the time capsule contained a photograph with the text “James Netherwood, The Master Stone Mason” on the back.

The Library of Virginia records also suggest that 37 Richmond residents, organizations, and businesses contributed around 60 objects to the capsule, many of which are believed to be Confederation-related.

Besides that there were a lot less objects, the dimensions of the capsules were smaller than expected. The capsule, which is about the size of a large shoebox, was also made of lead, not the copper that state officials thought it would be.

The discrepancy between what was supposed to be in the capsule and what was found has led some to speculate that another capsule may still be in the pedestal, yet to be discovered.

“We have confirmed it’s not who we thought it was. So that means a copper is probably still in the foundation, ”said Dale Brumfield, local author, journalist and historian.

He pointed to the presence of the book written by Mr. Burgwyn, who designed the roundabout where Lee’s statue was erected in 1890, as a sign that the capsule was an official and planned part of the monument’s construction.

“It’s kind of a mid-term celebration. It doesn’t seem like something that someone slipped in,” Mr Brumfield said. “We’re halfway there.”

For five hours, curators from the State Department of Historic Resources on KensingtonAvenue worked hard to pry open the top of the small lead box that was eventually found. They worked diligently to avoid damaging the items. The combination of corrosion and mortar made opening the capsule much more difficult.

Work sped up when it became apparent that condensation had developed inside the small box, putting the objects inside at risk of further damage.

However, for those who did find the box in the end, the fact that it was retrieved was a hit.

“It’s a total relief,” said Devon Henry, president and CEO of Team Henry Enterprises, which handled the removal of the six-story bronze statue and its granite plinth.

“For finding it as we found it without damaging it, right?” It’s a big plus, ”said Henry.

The statue, long seen as a monument to the lost cause traitor and white supremacy, was removed in September, more than a year after Governor Northam ordered its removal following daily protests against the Racial injustice and police brutality that erupted in Richmond and across the country following the May 2020 police murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

The last blocks of stone from the pedestal fell on Wednesday afternoon.

The capsule was found on December 18 encrusted in a 1,500 pound block of granite, located about 20 feet above the ground in the main section of the pedestal.

The day after the statue was removed, a team spent more than 12 hours searching for the time capsule at the base of the 40-foot-high pedestal, but could not locate it.

Those who searched for it in September believed at the time that it was hidden inside or under a cornerstone of the pedestal.

At the end of last week, workers lowered the large piece of granite containing the box to the floor, tied it to a forklift, and drove it down Monument Avenue to the state’s historic resources department. , where it was dislodged from the granite and x-rayed to verify its contents.

The statue of Lee was one of five Confederate statues that stood for more than a century along Monument Avenue. It was the sole property of the state. The other four, owned by the city, were removed last summer on emergency orders from Mayor Levar M. Stoney after protesters removed the statue of Confederate President Jefferson Davis from its perch. Richmond City Council ratified the Mayor’s Orders on July 1, 2020.

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