When the Geneva History Museum experts opened the metal container recently discovered under the cornerstone of the former Sixth Street School building, they found (drum roll, please) …
OK, maybe not as exciting as the news of a time capsule, which Kane County officials thought they’d found when workers removed the cornerstone from the site Friday, but still, extremely cool. And the search for a time capsule (or capsules) which some believe might still be on the property will continue. But more on that later.
Workers from American Demolition and Kane County removed the cornerstone from the former site of the Kane County Regional Office of Education, a last step in the above-ground superstructure demolition. The property is being purchased by the Geneva Library District as a possible future campus. Kane County officials promised the cornerstone to the Geneva History Museum as well as any time capsule found on the property.
But the logistics of that donation weren’t easy. The cornerstone is extremely heavy — Emma estimated it weighs more than 400 pounds — so just getting it to the museum on Third Street in Geneva required some imagination and creative problem-solving. Turns out, one of the museum board members owns a nearby business that has a forklift and hand cart, and museum volunteers used those tools to get the block inside for closer examination.
At that point, museum officials had to work very carefully to open the container, preserve the cornerstone and save the contents. You can see some of the process illustrated in the photos presented here, courtesy of the Geneva History Museum.
Unfortunately, what was inside the compartment definitely was not the stuff of time capsules.
“The Geneva History Museum is honored to receive the cornerstone from the Sixth Street School building, which dates to 1924, to add to our collection,” Emma said. “We were excited about the possibility of a time capsule but discovered yesterday that it was simply the blueprints wrapped in paper and tied with a string.”
Ah, but even blueprints are a historical find of note, and those 92-year-old papers contain a little mystery of their own.
Emma said the outer wrapping of the blueprints were signed in pencil, and read:
The plans are dated 1923. At this moment, local historians aren’t sure who Burquist and Lundquist might be. Emma said the museum will clean and dry the plans and create a safe storage method for them to remain in the museum’s care.
The cornerstone will also be preserved in the museum’s collection and is presently on display in in the Geneva History Museum lobby.
And what about the mystery of the missing time capsule?
Emma says there could be as many as two time capsules somewhere on the property — one that was planted when the building was constructed, another years later, probably on an anniversary of the construction and perhaps under tree, according to students who attended the grade school.
Kane County Executive Director of Building Management Don Biggs said county workers and contractors would continue to look for the original time capsule. Emma said tree roots could have pushed the capsules deep into the ground and might not be found until, or if, the Library District develops the property. And of course, it’s possible the capsules won’t be found at all.
Until the next discovery, the mystery continues. And you can learn more about it by visiting the Geneva History Museum at 113 S. Third Street Geneva, IL.
About the Geneva History Museum
In 1943, dedicated citizens formed the Geneva Historical Society to preserve local history and educate the community. Artifacts were cataloged and stored in private residences and exhibited in storefronts. A Museum Committee was formed in 1961 to raise funds for a building. After years of searching existing buildings, they made a deal with the park district and city to build the first Geneva History Museum in Wheeler Park. This building was expanded twice, in 1972 and in 1990.
As newcomers began to outnumber long-time residents, the Historical Society recognized the need for flexible space and a more central location. In 2004, the organization, renamed the Geneva History Center, conducted a successful capital campaign to purchase a two-story building in the heart of Geneva’s historic district. The building was renovated to create two exhibition galleries, storage areas for collections and archives, a research room, a meeting room and offices. The organization has always operated on voluntary donations and does not received public funds.
In 2013, while participating in the Museum Assessment Program, it was rediscovered that the word Museum best represents the activities and services of the organization. In June 2014, the name became the Geneva History Museum, operated by the Geneva Historical Society.
The Museum celebrated 10 years in this building in August 2014 with a grand reopening of the redesigned Main Gallery, “Geneva’s Story,” our permanent exhibition. These facilities, combined with multiple award-winning exhibits, educational programs, cutting-edge research, and dedicated volunteers, continue to make the Geneva History Museum a source of great community pride.
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