Time Capsule Reveals Photographs and Writings from 1938

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(Host) Governor Howard Dean opened a time capsule on Thursday that had been hidden in a statue that has been standing on top of the Statehouse dome since 1938. The time capsule was recently discovered by workers who are restoring the base of the statue.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports.

(Kinzel) With roughly 100 intrigued people closely watching his every move, restoration carpenter Paul List tapped a special chisel to pry open a box that been placed inside the statue when its main section was rebuilt in 1938. The box measured five by six inches and was about an inch wide.

(Sound of gathered crowd observing, then cheering.) As the outer shell peeled away, List slowly pulled back the end of the box and delicately removed its contents. List gave the items to Governor Howard Dean who had donned special gloves to handle them.

Inside the box were six photographs of the restoration work completed in 1938 by then-Sergeant at Arms Dwight Dwinell and a newspaper from June of 1938. Dean also glanced at a narrative written by historian Dorman Kent that had been included in the time capsule. It was a narrative that offered a scathing evaluation of lawyers:

(Dean, laughing) “I’m not too sure this is going to be publicly readable.” (Crowd laughter.) “Here’s a picture of the head that he carved, that Dwight carved, which is really quite remarkable and some of the other things that were happening as he carved it, the work in progress.”

(Kinzel) Statehouse Curator David Schutz says the original statue atop the Statehouse to honor the goddess of agriculture was placed there in 1858 and was replaced with a wooden statue in 1938:

(Schutz) “So when that statue came down, rather than finding an artist to create the new statue, I think it is a remarkable story that this 87-year old sergeant at arms did go to the governor actually, who at that time was George Aiken, and asked if he could be allowed to whittle the new statue. And he recognized that he couldn’t do 14 feet worth of statue, so he drew his two custodians into the process – all of them lifelong wood workers, not artists, but woodworkers.”

(Kinzel) Schutz says a new time capsule will be placed inside the base of the statue when the current restoration project is completed. No one is sure what items will be placed in the new capsule but there is agreement to put a newly minted Vermont quarter in it.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.

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