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There Could Be a Historic Discovery in Boston That's Been Hiding In 'Plain Sight

Old State House in Boston (Photo credit: Shutterstock)

Boston residents are anxiously awaiting what could turn out to be an historic discovery in "plain sight."

Historians at the Bostonian Society are pointing to a 1901 Boston Globe article that seems to suggest the existence of a time capsule atop one of the city's most recognized landmarks. According to the 113-year-old article, the capsule contains "contributions from state and city officials, the Boston daily newspapers, the name of the maker of the lion and unicorn, and others."

The lion and unicorn referred to in the article are the lion and unicorn statues which sit atop the Old State House. The century-old statues were taken down Sunday for general maintenance and sent to Woburn's Skylight Studios. That's where conservator Robert Shure detected a copper box about the size of a shoebox inside the lion's head.  Shure's finding would align with the 1901 Boston Globe headline, which read, "Lion and Unicorn: Copper Box to be Placed in Head of the King of Beasts."

But as speculation runs rampant throughout, historians at the Freedom Trail Foundation are doubtful anything will actually come of it. Sam Jones, Freedom Trail's creative director, told that "...[A]s far as anything being in the lion and unicorn, I have absolutely no knowledge of that."

According to several staffers at Freedom Trail, historians of the Bostonian Society are likely confusing the capsule they say is inside the lion statue with that of the time capsule inside the Golden Grasshopper weather vane atop Faneuil Hall. The weather vane capsule was full of letters, coins, and documents dating back to 1761. It has been updated as refurbishments there have been performed.

But Brian LeMay, executive director and president of the Bostonian Society, remains optimistic the copper box Shure detected is the long-awaited time capsule.

“We didn’t anticipate there would be such reaction to this project," LeMay told “But it is kind of a hoot that something like this has been hiding in plain sight for a hundred and some odd years," he added.

Shure said he would need about a week to determine the best way to remove the box from inside of the lion statue. If a capsule is discovered, whatever is inside of it will be added to the Bostonian Society's collection.


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