SGH Assists in Removal of Massachusetts State House Time Capsule

December 24, 2014

In March 2014, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance (DCAMM), as part of an ongoing water-infiltration study, contracted Simpson Gumpertz & Heger Inc. (SGH) to review interior staining and masonry deterioration at the southeast corner of the Massachusetts State House.  At the same time, DCAMM alerted SGH that historic accounts suggest that there was a time capsule located in this area and that the capsule contains artifacts dating from the original cornerstone ceremony in 1795, and additional artifacts from 1855, when the time capsule was unearthed as part of emergency foundation repairs. 

SGH used ground penetrating radar (GPR) to locate the box.  Once located, SGH then designed the shoring and removal procedure to recover the box.  Walsh Brothers Construction assembled a team of contractors to erect the shoring and remove the masonry.  The contractors removed four granite stones, weighing between 700 and 850 lbs, from the wall.  They installed approximately 2,000 lbs of steel shoring to support the building during the stone removal.

On Thursday, 11 December 2014, SGH and Walsh removed the cornerstone, and then Museum of Fine Arts (MFA) conservator Pam Hatchfield, carefully freed the box from the plaster, encasing it in a recess in the bottom of the granite cornerstone.

DCAMM believes the time capsule contains a collection of silver and copper coins (dating from 1652 and 1855), an engraved silver plate, newspapers, a seal of the Commonwealth, cards, and a title page from the Massachusetts Colony Records.  Governor Samuel Adams, Paul Revere, and William Scollay oversaw the 1795 ceremony.  Winslow Lewis and Governor Henry Gardner oversaw the ceremony to replace the deposit in 1855.

Today, DCAMM announced an unveiling event at the MFA on Tuesday, 6 January 2015, where they will publicly open the time capsule. 

Watch the video to learn more.


*Photograph © Museum of Fine Arts, Boston