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BOSTON – Crews removed a time capsule dating back to 1795 on Thursday from the granite cornerstone of the Massachusetts Statehouse, where historians believe it was originally placed by Revolutionary War luminaries Samuel Adams and Paul Revere (below, 1735-1818) among others.
The time capsule is believed to contain items such as old coins and newspapers, but the condition of the contents is not known and Secretary of State William Galvin speculated that some could have deteriorated over time.
Officials won't open the capsule until after it is X-rayed at Boston's Museum of Fine Arts to determine its contents. The X-ray is scheduled for Sunday.
Originally made of cowhide, the time capsule was believed to have been embedded in the cornerstone when construction on the state Capitol began in 1795. Adams (below, 1771-1803) was governor of Massachusetts at the time.
The time capsule was removed in the mid-19th century and its contents transferred to a copper box, Galvin said. Its removal Thursday was due to an ongoing water filtration project at the building.
Pamela Hatchfield, a conservator at the museum, slowly chiseled away at the cornerstone on Thursday to reach the box, a process that took several hours to complete. Galvin said the plan is to return it to the site sometime next year.
The excavation came just months after another time capsule was uncovered from the Old State House, which served as the state's first seat of government. That long-forgotten time capsule, dating to 1901, turned up in a lion statue atop the building and, when opened, was found to contain a potpourri of well-preserved items including newspaper clippings, a book on foreign policy and a letter from journalists of the period.