While Salt Lake officials prepare to make history with the rededication of the City-County Building next month, the 95-year-old building is yielding a little history of its own.
Workers on Monday excavated a copper time capsule from beneath the building's cornerstone, laid in 1892, and cracked the lid to expose a stack of of century-old photographs and newspapers.Some of the papers - including the Deseret Evening News, the Wasatch Wave and a German-language paper called the Utah Freie Presse - heralded the laying of the cornerstone on Washington Square.
"The Cornerstone of the City-County Building to be laid Monday," read a headline in the now-defunct Salt Lake Herald.
City and County officials conducted a ceremony before laying the cornerstone July 25, nearly a century ago, said Phil Erickson, Executive Assistant to Mayor Palmer DePaulis.
Then-Mayor George Scott, owner of a downtown hardware store, presided over the ceremony, during which Masons laid the cornerstone in the northeast corner of the building, the typical location for a cornerstone, Erickson said.
"I don't know why it went there, that's just where the Masons put them," Erickson said.
To retrieve the capsule, Erickson said, workers chisled away a single sandstone block, removed the stone and exposed the copper box that serves as the time capsule, Erickson said.
The box and its contents are remarkably well-preserved, Erickson said, donning white gloves to carefully remove the capsule's memorabilia.
"By being buried in all that sandstone it was well-preserved and well-protected," he said, adding that the time capsule was insulated amid the sandstone from broad fluctuations in temperature and humidity.
Besides newspaper clippings and assorted photographs, the time capsule contained a few coins, an old Salt Lake Fire Department badge and a token for a drink at the Alta Club.
The box was studied by archivists at the University of Utah's Marriott Library, Erickson said. Initial speculation suggested that because the box was in such good condition, it was not originally installed in 1892.
"But they (library experts) said, based on its contents, there was no doubt about its authenticity," Erick-son said.
The fate of the time capsule will be determined by a recommendation of the Historic Research Committee, made up of historical experts, Erick-son said. The box will likely be replaced beneath the cornerstone, although some documents may be kept and treated against further decay.