Warren County to open 100-year-old time capsule

In March, workers took a metal detector to the cornerstone to confirm the existence of the time capsule. They removed the side of the cornerstone and visually confirmed it was there. CONTRIBUTED
Caption
In March, workers took a metal detector to the cornerstone to confirm the existence of the time capsule. They removed the side of the cornerstone and visually confirmed it was there. CONTRIBUTED

Credit: CONTRIBUTED

Credit: CONTRIBUTED


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The Warren County Records Center and Archives will open the time capsule from the cornerstone of the Infirmary Building at an event beginning at 4 p.m. Sept. 1 at 406 Justice Drive in Lebanon.

The Infirmary building in Lebanon, which now houses Warren County Health and Human Services, turns 100 this year.

Officials with the Warren County Records Center and Archives are hoping that building’s cornerstone holds highly sought after information about its predecessors.

On Sept. 1, the Archives will open a time capsule housed in the building’s cornerstone, hoping to reveal valuable documents pertaining to the building.

The capsule was placed in the cornerstone when the current building was completed in 1916.

“The Infirmary had two fires,” said Jen Haney, records manager and archivist at the Warren County Records Center and Archives. “In those fires, a lot of documentation from the building was burned. We don’t have a lot from that time period for that building.

“Anything we can get about that building and the individuals who worked in that building would be wonderful because we don’t have a whole lot prior to 1916.”

Through research done by the Archives, Haney believes the capsule contains items placed by the county commissioners of the time and a few items from the Freemasons.

The current building is the third iteration of the Infirmary. The first opened in 1831, burning down in 1866. The second building burned in 1915 in a fire believed to be caused by prohibition advocates.

An exhibit about the infirmary building is also on display in the lobby of the Warren County Administrative Building at 406 Justice Drive.

The discovery of the capsule began last summer when Jenifer Baker, deputy archivist, and two interns began researching information about the infirmary.

Through newspaper articles from 1916 and minutes from commissioners meetings, the group found out about the capsule, or “treasure box” as it was called, located in the building’s cornerstone.

In March, workers took a metal detector to the cornerstone to confirm the existence of the capsule. They removed the side of the cornerstone and visually confirmed it was there.

It took about two and a half hours to reach the capsule.

Haney said the capsule will be extracted from the cornerstone a few days before the event on September 1. The capsule will have to be opened carefully, she said, as to not compromise the condition of the contents.

“In theory, these documents haven’t seen any humidity change or air change in 100 years,” Haney said. “Hopefully there won’t be any damage done to the materials before we open it. In a perfect world, it hasn’t had any type of moisture. We’re hoping there are no air pockets that could get in there.”

In October, the archives will place a new time capsule in the cornerstone, along with a new plaque, calling for it to be extracted and opened in the year 2116. The new capsule will feature information about Warren County’s Health and Human Services Department, the building’s current occupants.

Haney said other county departments will be included as well.

“We’re going to be putting in things kind of related to what’s in the building now so in 100 years, when people open it up, they can what was happening here at the time,” she said. “We’re going to opening it up to all departments so 100 years from now they can see how society was here.”

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