Conservationists in Richmond, Virginia, opened a time capsule Wednesday found beneath a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee.
The 1887 capsule, buried in the equestrian statue’s pedestal, contained an almanac dating 1875, a novel, a coin from Great Britain, a catalog and a photograph of James Netherwood, a stonemason who helped build the pedestal, The New York Times reported.
“We have not yet made sense of why this assortment was placed in the box,” Director of the Virginia Department of Historic Resources, Julie Langan, told the outlet. “It’s an odd assortment.” (RELATED: McCarthy Doesn’t Mind Removing Confederate Statues, Since They’re All ‘Statues Of Democrats’)
Time capsule update: It is not open yet, but a surgical camera shows something inside—looks like a book! pic.twitter.com/0Q845JYohS
— Governor Ralph Northam (@GovernorVA) December 22, 2021
Removing the corroded lead container’s lid took about five hours, starting at 10 a.m. and ending at around 3 p.m. when Democratic Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam opened the lid to look inside, CNN reported.
Historians expected the capsule would contain around 60 items related to the Confederacy, according to what Library of Virginia records suggested, WRIC-TV reported. According to rumors, the container was supposed to have a rare image of Abraham Lincoln in his coffin, Langan told the NYT.
“I just think it’s an important day for the history of Richmond and Virginia to have this box,” Northam said, according to WRIC-TV. “Whether this is the time capsule that has been written about, I’m not sure but certainly these are some very interesting documents.”
Workers found the time capsule Dec. 17 when they were disassembling the statue’s pedestal, according to a press release from Northam’s office.
Virginia had removed the statue earlier in September, under Northam’s orders, after winning a lawsuit state residents filed.