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This time capsule, buried 50 years ago beneath eight inches of concrete at the High Point Chamber of Commerce's 1969 location on North Main Street, was unearthed Wednesday. The contents of the time capsule will be revealed July 30 at the chamber's annual "State of the City" luncheon
HIGH POINT — A 50-year-old time capsule, buried beneath 8 inches of concrete and largely forgotten about until recent months, was unearthed Wednesday, just in time for the celebration it’s been destined to be a part of since 1969.
The time capsule — a heavily corroded copper box approximately 18½ inches long, 13 inches wide and 14 inches high — was dug up with a jackhammer in a utility room of the building at 704 N. Main St., which housed the High Point Chamber of Commerce in 1969, when the box was buried there.
“The time capsule had sort of fallen off the radar,” said Patrick Chapin, president and CEO of Business High Point-Chamber of Commerce. “We didn’t even know about it until we started doing research for our 100th anniversary, which we’re celebrating this year, and we came across a High Point Enterprise article about the time capsule.”
Chamber officials buried the time capsule on Dec. 16, 1969, as part of the organization’s 50th-anniversary celebration. Their intent was for current chamber officials to dig up the box this year and open it in conjunction with the 100-year anniversary.
Even after learning about the time capsule, though, there was another problem.
“The article only stated that it was buried in the utility room, but we didn’t have any idea where,” Chapin said, explaining that the room is approximately 300 square feet.
So Wednesday, Adam Cardin of Samet Corp. and Ray Gibbs of Forward High Point, which owns the building, went to the utility room with a jackhammer, intent on finding the 50-year-old buried treasure.
“It was like a Zen moment,” Chapin said. “They put themselves back 50 years ago and were thinking about where they would’ve put it. They were thinking there would’ve been an audience, so they probably wouldn’t have put it back in the back of the room. They decided to jackhammer just inside the threshold.”
Sure enough, they found the box on their first try. The jackhammer actually nicked the top of the box, Chapin said, but it didn’t damage any of its contents.
When the concrete was brushed away, they saw a single key sitting atop the box — the key that unlocked the time capsule. Inside the box, they found a notice indicating who had donated the box — Jacobs Tin Shop on Greensboro Road
The High Point Chamber of Commerce's time capsule was buried on Dec. 16, 1969. Shown packing the time capsule are (from left to right) Joe Brown, chairman of the chamber's 50-year anniversary observance; Leo Heer, chamber president; and George Covington, executive vice president.
They also found — well, it’s a secret what else they found in the time capsule. The contents won’t be revealed until July 30 at the chamber’s annual State of the City luncheon.
Among the items should be a letter to current chamber members from then-chamber-president Leo Heer — according to a 1969 Enterprise article about the time capsule — but the other items remain a mystery, except to a few individuals who were privy to the contents.
“It was really cool to see what was in there,” said Marian Inabinett, curator of collections for the High Point Museum, which will display some of the time capsule items beginning Aug. 6.
“We were really curious to see what kind of condition they were in after 50 years in the floor, under concrete. Had they been preserved well, or was it just going to be a sloppy mess? And I have to say we were pretty excited with their condition, all things considered.”
Next week, the museum will unveil a new exhibit, “Celebrating A Century of Commerce,” a tribute to the chamber’s 100th anniversary. Opening on July 19, the exhibit will feature photographs and artifacts from the chamber’s 100 years of serving High Point.
In the meantime, Chapin said chamber officials are planning to bury a time capsule of their own later this year, to be dug up 50 years from now. He doesn’t know what will go in the capsule or where it will be buried, but he does know one thing.
“We’ll definitely leave better clues and references this time,” Chapin said. “And we’ll make sure The Enterprise writes another story about where we bury it, so they can find it 50 years from now.”
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