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1948 Time Capsule Discovered in Calif. Church Before Demolition; 1875 Bible Found Inside

1948 Time Capsule Discovered in Calif. Church Before Demolition; 1875 Bible Found Inside

A constructions crew was preparing to demolish a California church last week when it uncovered a piece of history – a time capsule from 1948.

The box, which is made of copper and was soldered shut, was discovered behind the cornerstone at St. Paul's Church in Berkeley, Calif., according to Berkeleyside. It was found after developer Bill Schrader Jr. told his construction crew to save the cornerstone so it could be included as part of the new apartment building that will be constructed on the site.

Instead of opening the box himself, Schrader gave it to Leonard Nielson of the Presbytery of San Francisco, the organization that previously owned the church. Nielson, who serves as the pastor of Christ Presbyterian Church in San Leandro, also works with other churches in the presbytery and oversaw the sale of St. Paul's.

Nielson opened the time capsule on Monday. Inside were, among other things, a Bible from 1875, programs from the church's groundbreaking ceremony in 1948 and a brief history of the founding of the church.

The box also contained fliers from the temperance movement that were written by the church's founding pastor, Frank Shunk Downs. In addition to leading the church, Downs also served as the president of the California Temperance League.

Nielson says the church was probably built by people who settled down in Berkeley after World War II, and at the time it wasn't uncommon for people from the community to gather together to construct their own church building with the presbytery's financial support.

"It's a story about a particular time that doesn't exist anymore, how people lived in neighborhoods," Nielson told Berkeleyside. "The church was a big social connection in those days. You can look at the time capsule and realize the whole story of how that little teeny church got started. These little churches were built with enthusiasm and a very, very local connection."

Schrader says he plans to reuse the time capsule by placing modern items in it and burying it behind the church cornerstone when it is built into the new apartment building. He also plans to keep the church's copper steeple and use it as part of the landscaping.

"I just think you should connect the past to the future if you can do it somehow," he said.


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