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Time Capsule Found in Detroit!


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1867 DETROIT TIME CAPSULE: Elements erode downtown statue's secret




Safely ensconced beneath the Soldiers and Sailors Monument in downtown Detroit, forgotten behind 3 1/2 tons of Rhode Island granite, untouched for more than 130 years sat . . .

. . . a box of muck.

Unfortunately, that discovery was not what Detroiters of yore had in mind when they tucked historical papers away 136 years ago. But by the time workers dismantling the monument uncovered the cache Tuesday, it was little more than a 10-by-12-inch container filled with brackish water and muddy goo.

"It's really too bad," said Dennis Zembala, the director of the Detroit Historical museums who pried the lid off the copper box sealed inside a block of granite marked "July 4, 1867."

Zembala said the block was the cornerstone of the monument, which was laid in 1867 for the tribute to Civil War veterans that was unveiled on April 9, 1872. He said it was odd that the cornerstone would be concealed as part of the monument's foundation.

Zembala said the box and its contents would be taken to the Walter Reuther Archives at Wayne State University, where paper experts would "see if there's anything we can save."

He was not optimistic.

Workers said they expect to begin piecing the monument back together on Thursday, about 150 feet south of its current location. The move is part of plans to recreate the downtown park known as Campus Martius.

Bob Olson, a bricklayer for Grunwell-Cashero who was the first to spot the cornerstone, said as he waited for Zembala to open his find: "Eighteen sixty-seven. I'm playing that number later in the four digit today."


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Really sad that a priceless historical artifact(s) is ruined. :( Though today would be a perfect time to create a time capsule for Detroit - the city is on the verge of rebounding, and it would be of great interest for a more prosperous (or even more decayed, perhaps) city to see what it was like today.

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The park will be nice when it's completed. It should be completed next summer. It is at the heart of the city's redevelopment plan. However, it will be some time before the buildings planned for the vacant areas surrounding the park are constructed. Only Compuware has been built; the Kennedy Square Building, the Monroe Block Building, and the Crowley Block Building are all still proposed (at least according to skyscrapers.com). The buildings will be about 15 stories each. I know it's not tall, but Detroit will take any development it can get these days.










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i really don't care how tall the buildings are, as long as they are new and replace empty lots....as far as i'm concerned any new skyscrapers can go in the CBD

the campus martius/lower woodward corridor, should seem more pedestrian friendly, with apartments, cafe, entertainment, etc...and it seems like its certainly on the right track to become a hopping neighborhood

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i really don't care how tall the buildings are, as long as they are new and replace empty lots....as far as i'm concerned any new skyscrapers can go in the CBD

I'd prefer taller buildings, but I'd rather see several shorter skyscrapers filling up all those surface lots and empty fields than simply one tall one filling up just one surface lot (although a tall one would add so much more to the skyline).

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CIVIL WAR MEMORABILIA: Two 1860s-era silver pieces shine from the muck found inside a Detroit monument

October 11, 2003



An 1866 silver dollar, a medallion, a silk ribbon and the leather bindings from books stashed in a copper box deep inside Detroit's Soldiers & Sailors Monument were all that survived a rather damp 136-year sequestration.

The artifacts honoring Michigan's 90,747 Civil War veterans were unveiled Friday at the Detroit Historical Museum, where preservationists worked to salvage something from a copper box full of muddy pulp.

Of course, the box wasn't filled with muck when it was tucked inside the monument's cornerstone on Woodward Avenue in downtown Detroit on July 4, 1867.

Museum curators said the Detroit Tribune from that date reported that dignitaries filled the container with roll calls of Civil War veterans and casualties, gubernatorial proclamations from the war era, law books, contemporary maps and manuals, a history of Detroit and a Jan. 4, 1800 newspaper announcing George Washington's death.

"They didn't consider that water might infiltrate into the base of the statue and into the box," said Dennis Zembala, director of the Detroit Historical Museums.

All that survived intact were a silver dollar inscribed on one side with "J.H. Morrison, jeweler, Detroit, Mich., July 4th, 1867" and a silver medallion that Zembala said Morrison must have made.

The thin medallion depicts Michigan's coat of arms. It carries the inscription "Michigan's Contribution to the War, 90,747 men" on one side and "Erected by the people of Michigan to the honor and memory of the gallant soldiers and sailors of the State who fought and fell on the war of 1861-65, for the preservation of the Union and Freedom" on the other.

The museum said the pieces are essentially priceless.

Workers dismantling the monument discovered the box Sept. 30 inside a cornerstone.

Zembala said the artifacts would go on display at the museum.

Fortunately, Zembala said, the museum has copies of several of the paper documents that were destroyed by moisture.

The cornerstone, a 3 1/2-ton block of granite, marked July 4, 1867, will be visible after it is incorporated into a new base being built for the tribute to Civil War veterans, which has been relocated 125 feet south to the tip of the city's new Campus Martius park.

Contact M.L. ELRICK at 313-223-3327 or [email protected].

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I was glad to know what was in there. It's too bad the water got into it though. I'm looking forward to seeing the park too. I really need to get down to Detroit to take some pics of the city for my new website....of course by the time I get down there the Madsion-Lenox will be a gravel lot :angry:, and the park will be completed :)

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