RICHMOND, Virginia: Virginia crews working to remove the pedestal where a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee stood in Richmond, believe they have found a time capsule immersed in cement in 1887.
The bronze statue of Lee, erected in 1890, was taken down in September, more than a year after Governor Ralph Northam ordered its removal following riots after the killing of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis.
The work crews initially spent more than 12 hours searching for the time capsule in the pedestal, but were unable to find it.
However, Northam has announced that the top of a square box was found embedded in the 2,000-pound granite base.
“It looks like it is the time capsule. We are hoping it has not been damaged by water over the last 100-plus years,” said Clark Mercer, Northam’s chief of staff, as reported by ABC News.
“The box was still encased in granite and needs to be dislodged and X-rayed before officials can be certain it is the time capsule,” he added.
A newspaper article from 1887 indicates that the capsule contains Civil War memorabilia and a “picture of Lincoln lying in his coffin.”
According to records from the Library of Virginia, 37 Richmond residents, organizations and businesses contributed some 60 objects to the capsule, with many believed to be related to the Confederacy.
The Lee statue was one of five Confederate monuments located along Richmond’s Monument Avenue and the only one that belonged to the state.
The four city-owned statues were removed in 2020, but the removal of the Lee statue was blocked by two lawsuits, until the Supreme Court of Virginia ruled, in September, that it could be taken down.