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Crews believe they found 1887 time capsule in Lee pedestal

Confederate Monuments Richmond
Posted at 1:55 PM, Dec 17, 2021

RICHMOND, Va. -- Crews that have been working to dismantle the pedestal on Monument Avenue that once held a statue of Robert E. Lee believe they have discovered the 134-year-old time capsule said to contain historic artifacts.

According to Governor Ralph Northam's office, workers noticed something that looked “different” Friday morning, so they chiseled down with a hammer and found the top of what appears to be the time capsule — located inside a large block, under one inch of cement.

It was found approximately 20 feet in the tower portion of the pedestal, not in the pedestal’s base where crews spent nearly 12 hours searching for it back in September.

Northam's office said it appears to be largely undamaged.

The stone must be removed and lowered to the ground before historic preservation teams can confirm whether this is, in fact, the actual time capsule — which could take a while.

Historians believe a time capsule was placed in the cornerstone of the Lee pedestal on October 27, 1887. But an attempt to find uncover it after the Lee statue was removed from the pedestal was called off when no discoveries were made.

Records from the Library of Virginia suggest that 37 Richmond residents, organizations and businesses contributed about 60 objects to the capsule, many of which are believed to be related to the Confederacy.

Some reports claim the capsule contains things like coins and pamphlets and possibly a rare photo of President Abraham Lincoln in his coffin.

If this is confirmed to be the time capsule, Northam said it will be transported to the Department of Historic Resources, so it can be opened using best practices for historic preservation to maintain the integrity of the artifacts.

Officials created a new time capsule to replace the one from 1887, even though it was not discovered at the time. The new capsule contained things like a COVID vaccination card and a Black Lives Matter sticker.

The items in the new time capsule were chosen by officials from 150 submissions that the public participated in.

It is unclear where the new time capsule will lie once the pedestal is completely removed.

This story was originally published by Taylor O'Bier at