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After 134 years, Lee statue's time capsule will be opened on Wednesday

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Workers found a 134-year-old time capsule on Friday while disassembling the pedestal that once held the Robert E. Lee statue. 

Gov. Ralph Northam on Wednesday plans to witness the opening of the 134-year-old time capsule that workers retrieved Friday while taking apart the pedestal of the Robert E. Lee statue he ordered removed from Monument Avenue.

Northam plans to watch the opening of the “1887 Confederate time capsule” in a lab at the Department of Historic Resources in Richmond.

On Friday morning, workers removing the pedestal discovered a 14-by-14-by-8-inch copper box. Its contents are believed to include Confederate memorabilia, including potentially a rare photo of President Abraham Lincoln in his grave.

Erected in 1890, the statue of Lee stood on Monument Avenue for more than 130 years before it was removed in September. State officials announced this month that they would disassemble the 40-foot granite plinth and then give the plot of land to the city of Richmond.

The Northam administration said historians believe a time capsule was placed in the pedestal on Oct. 27, 1887, more than two years before the unveiling of the Lee monument.

In September a masonry crew spent at least a day looking for the time capsule to no avail. They were looking near the base. It turned out the time capsule was embedded 20 feet up.

A historic preservation team will open the capsule. On Tuesday the Department of Historic Resources removed the box from a 1,500- pound granite block, Director Julie Langan said.


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