RICHMOND— If a court clears the way, Virginia will not just remove a soaring statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from the city of Richmond's famed Monument Avenue.
It will also excavate a little-known piece of history from inside the massive monument's base: a 134-year-old copper time capsule. Historical records and recent imaging tests suggest the capsule's presence.
Some have speculated that it contains a rare, valuable, and historically significant photo of a deceased President Abraham Lincoln.
The carefully planned removal project is contingent on the resolution of two still pending lawsuits.
Governor Northam is now inviting Virginians to suggest new artifacts that represent Virginia today for a new time capsule that will be installed at the site when the statue is removed.
“It’s time to say to the world, this is today’s Virginia, not yesterday’s,” said Governor Northam. “And one day, when future generations look back at this moment, they will be able to learn about the inclusive, welcoming Commonwealth that we are building together. I encourage Virginians to be part of this unique effort to tell our shared story.”
Historians believe that the time capsule was placed in the cornerstone of the pedestal of the statue on October 27, 1887.
According to records from the Library of Virginia, 37 Richmond residents, organizations, and businesses contributed about 60 objects to the capsule, many of which are believed to be related to the Confederacy.
When the current time capsule is removed, all of its contents will be transferred to the Department of Historic Resources’ conservation lab.
To submit an artifact for consideration, Virginians must own the item or have the ability to obtain it. They must include the item’s size and material, and an explanation of how the object represents Virginia. Submissions will be collected through Tuesday, July 20.
For more information about how to participate in the creation of the new time capsule, click here.