Attempts to retrieve 1887 time capsule from former Lee monument will be limited Thursday

Richmond

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Thursday morning crews will be back at the pedestal of the former Robert E. Lee monument to search for a time capsule from 1887. Just like the statue and pedestal plates, the time capsule will be removed from Monument Avenue.

The removal is set to start at 8 a.m. The public will be able to watch the action from the public viewing area on Monument Avenue.

A local sculptor familiar with the capsule project told 8News that there is a possibility the 1887 time capsule is not found. He said crews will have a set number of attempts to retrieve the time capsule from inside of the pedestal before they have to end their efforts. If a certain amount of stones are removed without the capsule being found, the crews will stop looking for it.

Records from the Library of Virginia indicate the time capsule exists, but a release from Gov. Ralph Northam implies that the time capsule’s existence is not a sure thing.

If located, the capsule will be taken to a lab in the Department of Historic Resources. There it will immediately be opened up and efforts to preserve the objects inside will begin.

The former time capsule is speculated include 60 items, most of which honor the Confederacy, despite the Confederate army losing the Civil War over 20 years prior to the capsule being buried.

Following the removal attempts, a new capsule that reflects the last year and a half will be set in the pedestal. The new capsule focuses on the global pandemic and the widespread reckoning with racism set into motion after police killed George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Floyd’s death sparked months of civil unrest in Richmond. Many of those protests took place on Monument Avenue which resulted in the City of Richmond taking down the city owned Confederate monuments as well as the state’s legal battle to remove Lee.

Gov. Ralph Northam’s office stated that the new capsule will capture “the resilience and struggle of life, within a pandemic” and highlight the events and people that pushed the state towards removing the Lee statue.

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