Sunday, October 2, 2022

Items Removed From Second Time Capsule Found Beneath Robert E. Lee Statue Pedestal

A second time capsule found buried beneath the Robert E. Lee statue in Richmond was opened Tuesday. (WYDaily/Nancy Sheppard)

RICHMOND — A second time capsule that was found hidden beneath the pedestal of the now-removed Robert E. Lee statue in Richmond was opened on Tuesday, Dec. 28.

The 1887 time capsule was retrieved Monday (Dec. 27) and its opening was broadcast live on Gov. Northam’s Twitter and Facebook pages on Tuesday afternoon from the Conservation Lab of the Virginia Department of Historic Resources (DHR).

The team of conservators were able to remove a variety of materials from the copper box, which included a bullet, photos, rubber bands, letters and a Richmond directory. Other items retrieved were a Bible, Confederate money, copper coins, a “Harper’s Weekly” from 1865, an 1887 almanac, and a copy of a photo of Abraham Lincoln lying in his coffin.

State Archeological Conservator for DHR Kate Ridgeway said that the items found in the time capsule were waterlogged, “but not as bad as they could have been.”

“I think it’s in better shape than we had expected,” Ridgeway said. “We thought everything was going to be soup and it’s not soup, so it’s pretty great.”

Gretchen Guidess, a conservator with the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, said that the team is attempting to get the damp or wet items dry quickly.

The 21-foot statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, the largest remaining Confederate statue in the U.S., was removed from the capital city in September.

The process of taking down the statue’s 20-foot tall pedestal began this month, and the first time capsule was discovered in the middle of the pedestal last week. The first time capsule included artifacts placed by the people that built the physical structure.

Conservators will continue to work on preserving and studying the items over the next few weeks.

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