RICHMOND, Va. (AP) – Teams completing the removal of a giant pedestal that once contained a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee in Richmond have discovered what appeared to be a much sought-after second time capsule, Virginia Gov Ralph Northam has declared Monday.
The governor tweeted photos of a box removed from the site and that curators were studying the artifact.
âThey found him! This is probably the time capsule that everyone has been looking for, âhe tweeted.
The box was to be opened Tuesday afternoon. It was not immediately clear what kind of state content might be in.
The development marked the latest turning point in a months-long search for the capsule, which contemporary news accounts indicate. was placed in a cornerstone laying ceremony in 1887 attended by thousands of people. News articles described his dozens of donated artifacts, including Confederate memorabilia. Based on historical documents, some have also speculated that the capsule may contain a rare photo of late President Abraham Lincoln.
Earlier this month, pedestal dismantling crews found a time capsule encrusted in a block of granite that some initially believed was the one placed in 1887. But after state curators spent hours last week carefully opening the box, they did not find the expected treasure of Confederation-related items. Instead, the Conservatives brought out a few waterlogged books, a silver coin and an envelope with papers.
The theory that prevailed last week was that the lead box was left behind by someone – or people – who oversaw the construction of the monument.
The search for the 1887 time capsule resumed on Monday.
Devon Henry, the contractor whose company was overseeing the removal, said the box was found inside a mostly ground-level granite enclosure surrounded by fill and other construction materials. Workers removed the top of the granite enclosure to find the box, which appeared to be copper, resting in the water, Henry said.
The box was then covered with bubble wrap and transported by vehicle from the site for further study, he said.
The governor’s office said in a press release that the box, which matches the size of the capsule listed in historical documents, had been x-rayed. The resulting images showed it appeared to include books, coins, buttons and possibly some type of Civil War-era ammunition, according to the press release.
It was to be opened Tuesday afternoon in a state laboratory.
The statue of Lee, which depicted the general on top of a horse, was erected on the soaring pedestal in 1890 in the former capital of the Confederacy. its removal in September came more than a year after Northam ordered it following protests that erupted after the police murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
The statue was one of five huge Confederate tributes along Monument Avenue, and the only one owned by the state. The four statues belonging to the city were dismantled in 2020, but the removal of Lee’s statue was blocked by two lawsuits until a Virginia Supreme Court ruling in September clears the way for it to be disassembled.
The crews searched for the time capsule and then, digging and removing some massive stones, but could not locate it.
Henry said he was found in the northeast corner of the pedestal on Monday, about 1.2 meters below the area initially searched.
Northam’s administration originally planned to leave the pedestal in place, but announced in early December, contractors would remove the juggernaut, now covered in graffiti, and move the grassy roundabout it lived in to the town of Richmond. The administration said it will be held until “next steps” have been determined.
Finalizing the removal work at the site will likely take another week, Henry said.