The artifact was unearthed Thursday thanks to a water leak near its resting place inside a cornerstone at the Massachusetts State House in Boston.
When workers investigating the leak stumbled upon it, Secretary of State William Galvin, who heads the state historical commission, called Pamela Hatchfield, the head of object conservation at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts.
“There was a big discussion about whether or not it should be removed,” Hatchfield told Brooke Baldwin on “CNN Newsroom” on Friday. “(But) because there was water infiltration in that area of the building, it was decided that we’d try to see if we could find it, investigate and see whether the box was still intact.”
Hatchfield spent seven hours Thursday delicately and painstakingly chipping away at the stone to extricate it.
“The contents are of concern, but the plaster that held the box in place is in good condition,” Galvin said.
According to Galvin, the box-shaped capsule was placed by the Revolutionary-era duo in 1795, a year when Adams was governor and when construction began on the State House and its iconic dome, which would eventually be overlaid with copper by Revere.
“What we know the box contains, based on the notes that we have, is a Paul Revere plate, papers and coins from the 1600s,” said Galvin. “It may contain other stuff, too; we don’t know that yet.”
But we might soon: Galvin, whose office is inside the State House, said the capsule’s contents are expected to be revealed sometime next week.
For now, it’s getting some TLC and a thorough exam — including X-rays over the weekend — by the museum’s staff.
This is not the first time this capsule was unearthed. In 1855 it was dug up during emergency repairs to the State House and put back in place, something that has Hatchfield “a little worried.”
“We’re a little worried because in 1855, they cleaned the contents with acid,” she said. “So we’re a little concerned that things maybe deteriorated inside.”
Galvin sounded more optimistic.
“There were some coins that were tossed in the 1855 ceremony in the mix of the mortar. They are in good condition, so we are optimistic that the box itself has withstood the test of time and that it will therefore be holding the contents securely,” he said.
Galvin told CNN affiliate WBZ the capsule will probably be returned to the State House, and that he’s mulling both a new container for the capsule and new items from the current era.