The Washington Monument’s Cornerstone Time Capsule, Now with 3-D

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The new time capsule's contents.
The new time capsule’s contents.

The Washington Monument’s cornerstone is going back in the ground, and Washington is going with it.

Later this week, crews will put the 200-year-old cornerstone back at the northeast corner of the monument’s base. Inside will sit 3-D printed likenesses of the Washington statue at the top of the monument.

On Sunday, Mount Vernon Place Conservancy’s Lance Humphries and Lewis Contractors’ George Wilk II displayed the items, which include large versions of Washington’s head (with big eyes) and arm. A commemorative note will be placed inside the arm.IMG_0987

Humphries said the objects will provide a record of how the monument looked, and show any future cornerstone openers what was state-of-the-art in 2015. He feels that squares with the spirit of the cornerstone time capsule, as advances in printing technology were important to the people who put it together 200 years ago.

“What is beautiful is, this is made with latest technology of our time, but you don’t need any machine to understand this,” Humphries said.

George Wilk II talks about the Washington Monument cornerstone.
George Wilk II talks about the Washington Monument cornerstone.

Direct Dimensions performed a full 3-D scan of the statue, which depicts Washington resigning his commission at the end of the Revolutionary War. The scan was then used to create the 3-D models, which printed in nylon and electroplated in copper and nickel.


The cornerstone was the second time capsule discovered during the Monument restoration project. Wilk and his crews uncovered the 24 in. granite cube while digging a pit for a sewage tank. They want to put the stone back in the ground because of its symbolic place as the foundation of the monument.

The contents found inside were removed by conservators from the Walters Art Museum and Maryland State Archives. So far, we know that a series of jars were found inside, with newspapers made of rag paper. Though numerous visitors tried on Sunday, Humphries wouldn’t reveal what else was found, as the contents of the cornerstone and 100-year-old time capsule found inside the Monument are set to be revealed in late May.

Humphries sought to put the focus on the future.

“Get a good look,” he said while showing a Mt. Vernon resident Washington’s head. “No one’s going to see it for hundreds of years.”

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