The crews may have found the 1887 time capsule in Virginia

RICHMOND, VA. – Crews working to remove the pedestal where a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee has stood tall over Richmond for more than a century believe they have found a time capsule buried there. in 1887.

The colossal bronze equestrian statue of Lee, erected in 1890, was taken down in September, more than a year after Governor Ralph Northam ordered it removed after racist protests and police brutality erupted across the country – including in Richmond – after the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. The day after the statue was removed, workgroups spent more than 12 hours searching for the time capsule in the 40-foot (12-meter) pedestal, but were unable to locate it.

On Friday, Northam announced that crews had found the top of a square box embedded in a 2,000-pound (900-kilogram) block of granite. It sits about 20 feet (6 meters) off the ground at the main part of the base, not at its base. Workers who searched for it in September believe it was hidden inside or under a corner stone of the pedestal.

Northam said in a press release that the stone must be removed and lowered to the ground before historic preservation teams can confirm whether it is a time capsule.

“It looks like it’s (a time capsule),” said Clark Mercer, Northam’s chief of staff. “We hope it hasn’t been damaged by water for over 100 years.”

An article from 1887 suggested that the capsule contained Civil War memorabilia and “a photograph of Lincoln in his coffin”, although historians believe the photograph is an actual photograph. Very rare and valuable.

Records from the Virginia Library show that 37 Richmond residents, organizations, and businesses contributed approximately 60 items to the capsule, many of which are believed to have Confederate connections.

If workers confirm the box is a time capsule, it will be shipped to the state Department of Historic Resources to be opened using historic preservation best practices to maintain its integrity. integrity of the artifacts.

The statue of Lee, which has become a symbol of racial injustice, is one of five Confederate monuments along Richmond Monument Avenue and the only one that belongs to the state. Four city-owned statues were taken down in 2020, but the removal of the Lee statue was prevented by two lawsuits until a ruling from the Virginia Supreme Court in September paved the way for the removal. remove this statue.

Northam announced earlier this month that the giant pedestal would be removed, a reversal from September, when the governor said the pedestal would stay in place so its future could be determined by an effort. community-driven force to re-imagine Monument Avenue.

After Floyd’s murder in 2020, the statue of Lee became the focus of the racial justice movement in Richmond. Since then, the pedestal has been covered with graffiti, some of which are obscene and mostly denouncing the police. Some activists want to see it still in place as a piece of protest art.


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