Early pictures of the U.S. Declaration of Independence and many artifacts commemorating the centennial of the “Star-Spangled Banner,” Baltimore’s Washington Monument and other key aspects of American history were revealed Tuesday.
The 1915 Centennial Time Capsule was one of two time capsules discovered during the renovation of Baltimore’s Washington Monument, the first to honor George Washington.
The monument has been going through a $5.5 million restoration by the Mount Vernon Place Conservancy since January 2014.
The 1915 time capsule was opened Tuesday at the Walters Art Museum, while the contents of a time capsule from the 1815 cornerstone, some of which had been revealed in February, were finally displayed.
“The artifacts contained in the cornerstone are incredible finds and reveal much about what the Washington Monument represented to those who erected it 200 years ago,” said Lance Humphries, chair of the conservancy’s restoration committee, in a news release. “We wait with great anticipation to open the 1915 time capsule to understand what the monument meant to Baltimoreans a century ago.”
Discovered in October behind a bronze plaque marking the monument’s centennial, the 1915 time capsule was transferred to the Walters museum and has been on display — unopened.
In addition to the Declaration of Independence picture and other anniversary artifacts, the 1915 capsule contains a portrait of “Star-Spangled Banner” writer Francis Scott Key and newspapers of the day.
The monument’s original 1815 cornerstone was found in February with an inner lid carved with names of the monument’s original masons and stone cutters. There were also three glass jars stuffed with newspapers and wrapped bundles.
Each jar appears to tell a story.
One jar contained Washington’s likeness, a copy of his presidential farewell address, 10 U.S. coins, a medal of Washington and a medal honoring the Duke of Wellington’s military campaigns in the Spanish Peninsular Wars.
A second jar contained a 1812 copy of the Bible.
The third jar had July 5 and July 6, 1815, copies of the Federal Gazette. The July 6 paper has a story about the cornerstone being laid.
On top of the jars was a copy of the Declaration of Independence, reprinted in the Federal Gazette on July 3, 1815.
“While it is well-known that the monument is the first erected to George Washington, the selection of this item for such a prominent placement adds new meaning to the monument, and increase its significance” Humphries noted.
“American national independence was fresh in the minds of Baltimoreans of July 1815,” said Humphries. “They had just played a key role in resecuring that freedom during the Battle of Baltimore the previous fall.”
Another party is scheduled for July 4, the bicentennial of the laying of the monument’s cornerstone. After the monument is rededicated that day, it will be opened again to the public.
The Maryland Historical Society will also display some of the items starting on July 4.