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Old St. Mary's Hospital time capsule to be unveiled

Old St. Mary's Hospital time capsule to be unveiled

January 22nd, 2019 by Nicole Roberts in News

Diane McKinney, of the Missouri State Archives, opens the materials of a time capsule discovered by the Farmer Holding Company last November. Grandchildren and great-grandchildren of workers who helped construct the old St. Mary's Hospital informed the company and the Historic City of Jefferson of the rumored capstone.

Photo by Submitted photo

While workers constructed the old St. Mary's Hospital, they knew the hospital would mean big things for Jefferson City. To mark the occasion and life in the early 1900s, workers and community members buried a small copper box containing mementos inside the hospital in May 1904.

After being buried for nearly 115 years, the time capsule will be on display next month.

Farmer Holding Company discovered the box last November after grandchildren and great-grandchildren of workers who helped construct the old hospital called the company and the Historic City of Jefferson about the rumored capstone, HCJ Executive Director Anne Green said.

FHC donated the small time capsule to HCJ, who worked with the Missouri State Archives to open it properly without damaging the contents inside.

Since there was minimal humidity in the small box, Green said, the contents were well-preserved. Inside, there were several newspapers from Missouri dated May 1904, medallions, a postcard and a ribbon, among other things.

"We got really lucky because it was preserved so well," Green said. "Oftentimes when you open up a time capsule, there's leakage and air and water that was able to accumulate and often mold. All these factors can damage the contents. But for the most part, our contents are exactly as they were when they were put in in 1904."

HCJ will hold a private viewing for its members and community leaders from 2-2:45 p.m. Feb. 10 at Avenue HQ. The public can view the time capsule from 4-5 p.m. that same day at Avenue HQ, 621 E. Capitol Ave.

Admission is $5 for adults and free for those 14 years old and younger. That money will go toward historic preservation and the construction of a larger exhibit HCJ plans to build around this time capsule.

The public could view the items for free later this spring, Green said.

HCJ's goal is to educate the public on preservation, Green said, so this is "a really important find for us."

"We're excited to have this time capsule because I think it will raise interest in history-related matters in the community, especially for the younger generation of people," she said.

FHC plans to redevelop the old St. Mary's site into an area with retail, restaurant and office space.

In 2017, the Jefferson City Council approved FHC's plans to redevelop the old hospital using tax increment financing. The company plans to build either a $44.6 million project involving Lincoln University or a $30.9 million project with only commercial space.

The Jefferson City Historic Preservation Commission approved FHC's request to demolish the 1905 portion of the old St. Mary's Hospital in June 2018. FHC's parent company, F&F Development, plans to remove, clean and reuse the stone for a new building.

F&F Development applied to place the 1905 portion on the state historic register but the State Historic Preservation Office denied the application since the original structure had been added onto several times. The denial meant the company did not qualify for state or federal historic tax credits that would have helped offset the cost of redeveloping the site.