November 26, 2014

Restoration work is nearly complete!

It’s been a while since the last project update, so here we go. As many of you have been following the time capsule story, the restoration project that led to its discovery has been moving towards completion.

By the end of October the masonry restoration on the west façade was finished, deteriorated wood at the windows and door surround was replaced, and painting was completed. At the start of November the scaffolding came down to reveal a newly pointed and painted façade, although the average person walking by would likely not notice the work done. That is our goal during restoration projects, to make the necessary repairs and replacements without it appearing that we did anything.

The work on the east façade continued as well. The balcony balustrade and moldings were repaired and reinstalled. A late October storm caused damage to the window below the clock, so repairing that window was added to the project, and it has since returned with a new frame that exactly matches the previous one. Replacement of the balcony doors is being worked on as we speak, with new doors being fabricated due to the deterioration found on the old ones after removal and striping of the paint. Painting of the wood work on the east façade is in progress.

Most recently, the Lion and Unicorn statues were returned to the building after slightly more than two months away for restoration. Skylight Studios repaired and regilded the statues, the Lion in gold and the Unicorn in palladium. The new time capsule fabricated and donated by John F. Shea Co. could be seen from below as the crane from Marr Rigging lifted the Lion up to be secured in place by the crew from NER Building Restoration. All the while our general contractor Commodore Builders ensured a smooth day.

As the project comes to substantial completion, the Society needs a few more days of good weather and continued good work from all involved in the project.

By Matt Ottinger, Director of Facilities and Historic Preservation

November 24, 2014

A time capsule for 2114!

The new time capsule has been soldered shut and put back into the lion statue! Skylight Studios conservator Robert Shure placed the new time capsule inside the gilded scroll that forms the base of the statue (rather than the head, to make it more easily accessible in the future).

Items waiting to be placed in the time capsule.
After taking suggestions from the public, we selected over twenty items that represent Boston in 2014. The copper time capsule from 1901 was air-tight and water-tight and kept the materials inside in good condition for 113 years. John F. Shea & Co. in Mattapan, MA graciously donated the new time capsule, which is also made of copper. Each of the items in the time capsule were printed on acid-free paper or archival quality photograph paper and placed in either acid-free folders or tissue paper. We hope that these items cause excitement, and some intrigue, when the time capsule is opened by future Bostonians 100 years from now! Below is a list of all of the items that were included:

The new time capsule all packed up!
  • 2013 Boston Marathon medal and biography of donor Gregory Soutiea.
  • Letters from Boston journalists (Kiera Blessing, Boston Globe; Steve Annear, Boston Magazine; Brian Burns, Boston.com.)
  • Photograph of current Boston Mayor, Martin Walsh.
  • Photograph of former Boston Mayor, Thomas Menino.
  • Tickets from April 20, 2012 Fenway Park Centennial Boston Red Sox game, donated by Peter Loring.
  • David Ortiz limited-edition bobblehead, donated by the Boston Red Sox.
  • Apple iPhone 5, donated by Patrick LeTourneau.
  • Boston Globe newspaper, October 10, 2014, with story about discovery of 1901 time capsule.
  • Letter from British Consul Suzie Kitchens, on current United States/Great Britain relations.
  • Photograph of Governor Deval Patrick with Prime Minister of England David Cameron, at Boston Marathon Bombing Memorial, 2013.
  • Winning student essays from the 2013 Boston Duck Tour Essay contest.
  • Foreign Relations of the United States 1977-1980, Volume III, (bound in red, latest in a series represented by the 1896 volume found in the 1901 time capsule), with a letter from Davita Vance-Cooks, Public Printer of the United States, Government Printing Office.
  • Letter from Brian LeMay, Bostonian Society President and Executive Director.
  • Facsimile of a 1901 letter from George Litchfield, Business Manager of the Boston Traveler. This letter was included in the earlier time capsule that the Bostonian Society opened in October 2014.
  • Facsimile of a photograph of the team who worked on the 1901 Old State House restoration project. This photograph was included in the 1901 time capsule that the Bostonian Society recovered in 2014.
  • Photograph of the current restoration work teams – Commodore Builders and Skylight Studios.
  • Photograph of the current Old State Restoration Project team.
  • Old State House Lion & Unicorn: An Unfolding Story, an essay written by architect Donald Tellalian.
  • Box from Mike’s Pastry (with no canolis, unfortunately).
  • Letters from children participating in Greenovate Boston’s Community Summit 2014, and a Greenovate Boston button.
  • “Idahoan’s research uncovers time capsule,” facsimile of an article from Idaho Statesman, October 28, 2014.
  • Two 18th-century hand-wrought nails removed from the Old State House tower in 2008.
  • Two 19th-century cut nails removed from the tower in 2008
  • Fragment of a 1713 brick removed from Old State House during the 2014 west façade restoration project.
  • Menu from Legal Sea Foods restaurant, 2014.
  • Photographs of Boston’s central artery 2003, and Rose Kennedy Greenway, 2013 (before and after the Big Dig).
The Old State House restoration work is nearing completion. Stay tuned for updates!

By Elizabeth Roscio, Library and Archives Manager

October 31, 2014

Mystery letters: opening the sealed envelopes from the time capsule

When we opened up the time capsule earlier in October, we found five sealed letters.  Two were not labeled, one was labeled as from C.W. Ernst, Esq. Mayor's Private Secretary, one was in an envelope from the Boston Traveler, and the last one was in a thick envelope with "A Message to Posterity from the Daily Newspapers at City Hall" handwritten on the cover.  These letters caused a good deal of intrigue, but we couldn't slice into them for fear that we would accidentally damage the paper inside. 

I spent some time earlier this week slowly opening the letters using a bit of steam and a micro spatula.  The process was slow, but in the end each of the letters were removed from their envelopes with no damage.  Next came the fun part of finding out what was written and sealed 113 years ago.

S.D. Rogers and Mr. E.G. Priest
These two small sealed envelopes were packaged together along with the Fernald family history electrotype.  When opened, they were found to be beautifully handwritten letters  that provided short biographies of E.G. Priest, the clerk of the S.D. Roger & Company firm, and S.D. Rogers himself.  The S.D. Rogers Company was the firm that handled the restoration of the Old State House in 1901.



C.W. Ernst, Esq. Mayor's Private Secretary, Boston, Mass.

The letter in this sealed envelope was brief, and was written by C.W. Ernst on February 16, 1901.  Ernst was the private secretary to Mayor Thomas Hart, whose cabinet card was included in the time capsule.  The note that Ernst wrote and sealed states, "Nothing endures but wind.  The best contribution of New England to government is the town meeting."






Boston Traveler
Next, I opened an envelope from the Boston Traveler, 307 Washington Street.  Some of the ink from the letter had seeped through into the envelope, so I knew in advance that it was going to be a typewritten letter.  Opening it up, I found a two page legal-sized letter with the title "The Outlook for the Twentieth Century."  It was written by George A. Litchfield, the Business Manager of the Boston Traveler.  In the letter, he outlines his thoughts for the future, touching on technology, communication, and travel.  One of the lines that I found particularly interesting reads, "we shall fly; not merely navigate the air with cumbersome machinery sustained by bags of gas, but we shall step from our houses, an at our convenience or pleasure 'mount up on wings as eagles, run and not be weary, talk and not faint.'"

A Message to Posterity from the Daily Newspapers at City Hall
This letter was by far one of the items in the time capsule that generated the most interest.  It was listed on our inventory as being written by journalists who were detailed to City Hall, and everyone on staff was curious about what journalists felt was important enough to share with posterity.  I slowly worked to open the envelope, looked inside, and found that it was empty!  As it turns out, journalists in 1901 might have been playing a joke on future Bostonians!

Some of these letters will be included in the display of time capsule contents at the Old State House.  Stay tuned for more information about that temporary exhibit!

By Elizabeth Roscio, Library and Archives Manager

October 15, 2014

Contents of Time Capsule Revealed!

Yesterday I was excited for the opportunity to take materials out of the time capsule!  The capsule was full to the brim with documents, so the whole process of carefully removing materials took over two hours.  Each item was inventoried and photographed, and then placed in acid-free folders or boxes. The next step will be to scan the documents so that we'll have preservation copies and select items for a temporary exhibition.

The most striking thing about the contents of the time capsule was their amazing condition.  We knew that the capsule was air-tight and water-tight, so there was little worry about moisture or oxygen causing damage.  However, I was concerned about the high temperatures that the capsule would have been exposed to up in the Lion's head, as heat can speed up the chemical breakdown of paper.  However, the documents seem to be in great condition!  There was no little to no deterioration of paper quality, and some of the ink was so vivid it looked as if it had been written yesterday!

But what are the contents?  And what about that mysterious red book? 

The red book is a government publication, titled Papers relating to the Foreign Relations of the United States, with the annual message of the President transmitted to Congress December 7, 1896, and the annual report of the Secretary of State. There are no inscriptions within the book, so we don't know if it holds any significance.  It's my guess, though, that it was placed on the top of the pile of documents as a space-filler.  I checked WorldCat to see if there are other copies of this book in the area, and it does look as though this is one of the few copies out there.

Letters that are sealed will need a little bit of preservation work before they are opened. Please follow along on our blog for updates, and enjoy reading the full list of time capsule contents below!
  • Foreign Relations of the United States, 1896 (hardback book)
  • Blank packing paper
  • Wood removed from the Old Lion age of same 21 years in 1900 (notation is written on a business card for American Painting & Decorating Co. and tacked onto the back of the piece of wood)
  • The Banker Tradesman – the financial, legal, real estate, and building information, vol xxix, n. 4, February 20, 1901
  • Blank piece of letterhead from M.H. Gulesian
  • Business cards for S.D. Rogers & Co (Carpenters and Builders), Mr. Edwin H. Woods (Publisher and Treasurer of the Boston Herald), G. Fred Richmond (Boston Herald), and John A. W. Silver (Deputy Superintendent of Public Buildings)
  • Boston Transcript of February 19, 1901 from Edw. G. Richardson, City Hall Representative
  • Pamphlet of the Organization of the School Committee of the City of Boston, 1901
  • Cabinet card of Mayor A.P. Martin [mayor 1884] with inscription “Yours truly”
  • Card with inscription “Geo. G. Proctor, 665 Sixth St., South Boston, Mass”
  • Parchment role of employees of public buildings department, February 1901
  • Bill for tuition and one piece of music, January 1, 1901 signed by John A. Silver
  • Sealed letter from C.W. Ernest, Esq. Mayor’s Private Secretary, Boston, Mass.
  • Letter from A.J. Rodway, describing the heraldic seal of the Lion and Unicorn
  • Sealed letter from the Boston Traveler
  • Campaign button for John D. Long, Candidate for Vice-President
  • Nail from Old South Church and nail from Old State House
  • Group photograph of individuals who worked on restoration of the Old State House, February 19, 1901
  • Sealed letter inscribed “A message to posterity from the daily newspapers at City Hall”
  • Grand Army of the Republic lapel button
  • Grand Army of the Republic badge
  • Samuel L. Powers for Congress campaign button
  • Boston Journal, photograph showing the 5th Massachusetts regiment
  • Fernald Family History, possibly on electrotype
  • Cabinet card of Moses Gulesian
  • Veterans button, possibly Grand Army of the Republic
  • McKinley and Roosevelt campaign button
  • The Boston Herald, February 21, 1901, with leaflets of advertising rates
  • Electrotype of Boston Herald, Herald Boy
  • Miniature electrotype of Boston Herald from April 11, 1900
  • Photograph of Nathan Matthews, Junior [Mayor 1891-94]
  • Photograph of Josiah Quincy [Mayor 1896-1899]
  • Six photographs of GAR officials, these images are pages cut out of a publication
  • Photograph of Edwin Curtis [Mayor 1895]
  • Cabinet card of C.G. Davis, Sergeant at Arms
  • Cabinet card of W. Murray Crane, Governor
  • Cabinet card of John B. Smith, Governor’s Secretary
  • Cabinet card of William W. Campbell, Deputy Sheriff
  • The Boston Post, February 19, 1901 and February 21, 1901
  • Cabinet card of Thomas Hart, Mayor
  • Cabinet card of Milton C. Paige, Superintendent of Public Buildings
  • Cabinet card of John A. W. Silver, Deputy Superintendent of Public Buildings
  • Commonwealth of Massachusetts Executive Department Directory, 1901
  • Die cut for printing of the Boston Herald building, 255 Washington Street
  • Letter from American Painting and Decorating Company about the work done on the Old State House, February 18, 1901
  • Boston Daily Globe, February 16, 1901 advertisement of circulation

By Elizabeth Roscio, Library and Archives Manager

All photographs by Amy Nelson, Finance and Administrative Assistant

October 10, 2014

Time Capsule Opened!

We opened the time capsule yesterday! Materials won't be removed until next week, but in the meantime, we wanted to share some behind-the-scenes photographs from yesterday's event. Amy Nelson, one of our staff members, was buzzing around the studio taking photographs, and we're thrilled to share some of them here - be sure to click on the image to see the larger version!



Watch this space for updates on the contents of the time capsule!