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Marshfield extracts 1961 time capsule

Items are displayed from a time capsule that was placed in the Marshfield Fire and Rescue Department in 1961 and opened on May 18 in Marshfield. Discovering a time capsule secured in the back of the former city fire station's cornerstone was like learning about buried treasure, said members of the Marshfield Fire and Rescue Department. (AP Photo/The Marshfield News-Herald, Laura Schmitt)

By LIZ WELTER
Marshfield News-Herald

MARSHFIELD, Wis. (AP)   Discovering a time capsule secured in the back of the former city fire station’s cornerstone was like learning about buried treasure, said members of the Marshfield Fire and Rescue Department.

The key became extracting the time capsule without damaging the building’s facade, since the structure had been sold. The former station is a block west of the new building at 412 E. Fourth St.

Deputy Fire Chief Ed Erickson telephoned EBE Masonry LLC of Marshfield for help retrieving the capsule, said Micah McDowell, the masonry company’s owner.

“He wanted an estimate, and I said I’ll do it at no cost just because I thought it would be cool to do it and see what was inside,” McDowell said.

Careful to cause little damage, McDowell and two of his workers removed the cornerstone and found a cement block behind it.

The time capsule was encased inside the block. The crew carefully removed the cement and found a shoe-box sized copper metal container soldered shut.

“They were going to make sure nothing damaged the time capsule,” said Fire Chief Jim Schmidt about the care taken to secure the contents.

Using a saw, the men opened the box inside the new fire station.

“It was pretty nice   kind of like getting a Christmas present and you wonder what will be inside,” said Dan Jonas, a firefighter.

Among the contents was a photo taken shortly before the firefighters and their equipment moved out of the former city hall at 112 E. Second St., a Marshfield News-Herald dated Oct. 11, 1961, and the 1960 city annual report and fire department’s 1960 budget.

“I think the only thing that was surprising was looking at the fire department budget,” said Jonas about the smaller department’s budget.

The News-Herald, from the date of the ceremony to place the cornerstone, included a sales flyer for Johnson Hills, which was a Marshfield department store. Among the sales were pillows advertised for $1.87 and window shades on special for $1.44.

The headline from the day was “France and Bonn to give approval for Berlin talks” about the status of U.S. and Soviet Union efforts to end the East and West division of Berlin.

“It’s really interesting to look at all of this. The box and its contents are like a present to the community today from the community of the past,” Schmidt said.

The time capsule and its contents are on display in the fire station’s public meeting room, where the 1887 Great Marshfield Fire diorama also is being displayed.

Information from: Marshfield News-Herald, http://www.marshfieldnewsherald.com

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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