30 Sep Boston lion statue is home to surprise time capsule
Have you ever walked past custom bronze monuments in your hometown and wondered what could be hiding inside? Residents of Boston were recently given an emphatic answer to that question in relation to a lion statue that has been sitting on top of the city’s Old State House for over 100 years – and it all springs from a story in the Boston Globe newspaper.
We’re referring to a Globe story from 1901, which reported the time capsule’s presence in the statue. It took until last week, however, for rumors to circulate concerning the capsule, at a time when the statue is being restored – alongside other unicorn statues – by sculptor Robert Shure. It was he who found the time capsule on Monday, according to Bostonian Society spokeswoman Heather Leet.
Leet admitted that even the Society hadn’t been aware of the Globe article “until several years ago”. However, that article wasn’t what kicked into motion the capsule’s present-day rediscovery. That honor goes to a descendant of one of the statue’s original sculptors, who came across a letter disclosing the capsule’s existence. Only when the Society saw this letter, did it then conduct research leading it to the Globe story.
Shure was able to use modern fiber optic camera technology to detect the capsule. Leet said that it consists of an approximately shoe box-shaped sealed copper box, with copper straps securing it to the sculpture. The capsule’s contents, according to the Globe story, range from old newspaper clippings and photographs to autographs and sealed letters from the era’s prominent Bostonians and politicians.
Shure, according to Leet, has expressed hopes of retrieving the capsule with minimum damage to the lion. If all goes well, a small ceremony could soon be held by the Bostonian Society at Shure’s Woburn studio to extract the box. While “hoping it didn’t get wet”, Leet added that an “archivist will be on hand to see the condition of the items – papers could be deteriorating, that sort of thing… We don’t want the newspapers to turn to dust.”
The Society is set to add the capsule’s items to its collection and put them on display in the Old State House museum this fall. In place of the old time capsule, meanwhile, will be a new one for the residents of 22nd century Boston to discover. It will consist of a photo of Mayor Martin J. Walsh, fascsimiles of the 1901 contents and potentially other items, as can be suggested by the public using the social media hashtag #LionAndUnicorn.
It’s certainly not the kind of story that you usually hear about the United States’ custom bronze monuments!