02/02/05 — Mud-covered papers found when time capsule opened

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Mud-covered papers found when time capsule opened

By Matt Shaw
Published in News on February 2, 2005 2:04 PM

Hidden for more than 80 years, the contents of the Community Building's time capsule were revealed this morning.

But exactly what they are will remain a mystery for a while longer.

The copper box, found in the remains of the burned-out building, was pried open shortly after 9 a.m. by Carroll Overton and Bill Dees, members of the building's board of trustees. More than 70 curious onlookers watched in the Herman Park Center's auditorium.

What Overton and Dees found was a bunch of muddy papers, some rolled up and some flat. Some newspaper clippings or pages were included, but the mud made them impossible to read.

Ed Borden, chairman of the board of trustees, said the group will contact state historical officials for advice on how best to preserve and, if possible, read the papers.

The condition of the contents was not a surprise. The box had been dripping water when it was recovered from the demolition site.

Still, the trustees had hoped for the best. The building had been such a community focal point, Borden said, and it would have been nice to get the materials from its original trustees.

"I wish some of them were here today to tell us what was in there," Borden said.

After the opening, people gathered to see into the box.

"I'm not disappointed," said Jo Bannon, of Goldsboro. "They didn't have the ways to preserve materials we have now. Nothing lasts forever."

Local historian Charlie Gaylor said, "Certainly they had a message that they wanted to convey and I'd like to know what it is."

Gaylor, a lawyer by trade, used to walk by the Community Building dozens of times each week from his law office to the courthouse and back. He keenly feels its absence now, he said.

"I'll never get used to that," Gaylor said. "It was such a handsome building, and the concept of honoring the war dead was very appropriate then and still today."

Bill Dees noted that Goldsboro had two newspapers, the News and the Argus, at the time of the building's construction. He wondered if the papers include samples of both papers.

Dees' father had been one of the original trustees but never mentioned the time capsule, Dees said.

Fellow trustee Peggy Seegars noted that it was a fairly common practice at the time to include a time capsule in the corner of prominent buildings.

She complimented Neil Bartlett, Goldsboro's recreation and parks director, for his efforts on behalf of the Community Building, both prior to its fire and in its aftermath.

"He has done everything first class," Mrs. Seegars said.

The Community Building, built as a tribute to local soldiers who died during World War I, was heavily damaged by a fire May 2, 2004. The trustees hope to build a replacement in an as-yet-undetermined location.