Excitement was in the air at Rock Hill City Hall Tuesday night. And for good reason. Time capsules from the historic Rock Hill Presbyterian Church and its more modern school were laying on a table covered in plastic ready to be opened.
Armed with an arsenal of tools, Rock Hill resident Chris Musial and his brother-in-law Tom Finan, an assistant professor and director of the Center for International Studies at St. Louis University, went to work trying to pry open the boxes. It proved to be tougher than it appeared, until a Rock Hill police officer offered an electric saw, which made the task much easier.
The historic church was built in 1845 at the corner of Manchester and McKnight roads. It has been moved to Cedar Lake Cellars, which is in Wright City, MO. U-Gas is building a gas station and convenience store on the land formerly occupied by the church and its more modern school, which has been demolished.
One time capsule, which was about the size of a small loaf of bread, had been placed in a cornerstone of the church after the roof caught fire in 1935 and was replaced. The contents of the box were damp, but it contained:
- a small Bible, owned by Edmond Kornfeld, the pastor of the church at the time;
- a 1934 list of church members;
- newspaper clippings;
- a quarter, dime, nickle and penny from 1934;
- and a flyer for worship services.
The more recent time capsule, about the size of a shoebox, had been placed in a cornerstone of the school when it was built in 1958. That box contained:
- a larger Bible;
- newspaper clippings;
- a door locking mechanism;
- a door knob;
- handmade nails from the manse, which was the pastor's home;
- and several coins.
Cathy Sarli, a former member of the Rock Hill Historic Commission who attended the event, said she thought the locking mechanism and the knob were from the Fairfax House.
She also divulged that there was supposedly another time capsule buried at the site under "a shady tree."
"Brinkmann, who's handling the U-Gas project, has been very proactive in finding the time capsules," Sarli said. "But they haven't located that one yet."
City Administrator George Liyeos, said the contents of the time capsules will be housed at City Hall for the next couple months until the Fairfax House is opened, probably in the few months.