On May 17, 1958, a small tin time capsule was lowered into a brick cornerstone in the foundation of the Old Student Union and sealed in concrete. For nearly 60 years, it lay hidden as the building, which served an ever-evolving set of roles for the College including dining hall, bookstore, Campus Police headquarters, Commuter Student lounge, and more.
The cornerstone was dug up last spring during the building's demolition, and at the recent Topping Out ceremony for the Academic and Welcome Center that will take the Old Student Union’s place, Nicole Casper, director of Archives and Historical Collections, and Fr. John Denning, College president, opened the tin time capsule with fingers crossed.
“You never know what you’re going to find when you open up a time capsule,” said Casper. “If water gets inside, it can damage the items and mold can grow.”
Though well founded, those fears did not come to pass. Instead, inside were three issues of The Summit, a document outlining a $5 million fundraising program, several press releases relating to the “new” Old Student Union, the 1957-1958 class catalog, and a medal with the College crest.
“I’m amazed at how well everything was preserved,” said Casper. “We knew that there were publications, but we didn’t know how the well they would survive. They are in fantastic shape.”
According to Casper, the Old Student Union time capsule is not the only one of its kind. Holy Cross Hall, now known as Duffy Academic Center, was built at the same time as the College first expanded down The Hill and to what is now the main academic quad.
Duffy (1957), Merkert-Tracy (1949), and Cushing-Martin (1962), all have time capsules that are over a half-century old!
See for yourself and join in
Now that the capsule is open and empty, the College Archives is planning to put its contents on display in the MacPháidín Library for the next year.
Along with the contents of the Old Student Union time capsule, the display will be accompanied by a suggestion box for items to include in a time capsule for the Academic and Welcome Center, along with a book visitors can sign that will be included in that new time capsule.
You can also email Nicole Casper here to offer suggestions for the Academic and Welcome Center time capsule.