Twice Removed: 200-Year-Old Time Capsule, Cornerstone Found at Washington Monument

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Photo by Greg Pease
Photo by Greg Pease

Crews working to complete the restoration of the Washington Monument unearthed another time capsule on Mt. Vernon this week. This time, they found a 200-year-old time capsule inside what is believed to be the monument’s original cornerstone.

Just like the discovery of 100-year-old time capsule back in the fall, George Wilk II of Lewis Contractors came up with the find as crews were doing dirty work. Wilk spotted 24-inch cube while overseeing workers on the northeast corner of the monument. They were digging a pit for a sewage tank.

The cornerstone is granite with a marble lid, and contains a hollowed-out well in the base. According to the Mount Vernon Conservancy, it’s likely that items were deposited in the well to commemorate the cornerstone laying ceremony in 1815.

“Interestingly, the cornerstone laying ceremony was well documented, but the location of the cornerstone was not mentioned, and its location had been lost to time,” the Conservancy stated.

Coins, papers and other artifacts are believed to be inside, but their condition is unknown.

“As the cornerstone is well below grade, 200 years of dampness may have compromised their condition,” the Conservancy stated.

When the 100-year-old time capsule was discovered in the base of the monument, Conservancy officials took it to the nearby Walters Art Museum to be explored. The contents of that capsule are believed to be in good shape, but it’s still sitting in the museum lobby waiting to be opened.

With the latest time capsule, the Conservancy isn’t waiting to find out what’s inside. They plan to open it Wednesday. Anything that’s found will be sent to the Walters for safekeeping.



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