62-year-old documents found in Kresge time capsule


Mariana Alfaro/Daily Senior Staffer

University Archivist Kevin Leonard unveils three glass containers found inside the Kresge Hall time capsule. The documents included a Daily Northwestern article from 1953.

Mariana Alfaro, Web Editor

Donor lists and newspaper articles from 1953 were among the documents preserved in a 62-year-old time capsule found on the Kresge Hall cornerstone. University officials opened the capsule Wednesday afternoon during a ceremony in the archives’ reading room.

The capsule, discovered when the building’s renovation began, contained three glass containers crafted by a Northwestern glass blower. The containers were full of helium in order to preserve the documents inside, which included a photograph of Sebastian S. Kresge, the building’s namesake and founder of the S.S. Kresge Corporation, now known as the Sears Holdings Corporation.

Bonnie Humphrey, the director of design and construction for Facilities Management, said Kresge Hall’s interior facilities were being updated in order to better serve the student body. To better accommodate the interior modifications, the exterior was updated as well.

“As we were demolishing, we were also doing repairs on the exterior and our contractor, Bully Andrews, ran into this mysterious box in the wall and we all scratched our head because we didn’t know exactly what it was,” Humphrey said. “Then we put two and two together because it was actually behind a wall that had the date and cornerstone on the exterior.”

Humphrey gave the capsule to University archivist Kevin Leonard, who said he expected the documents inside to be reflective of the University in the mid-1950s.

“At the time of (Kresge’s) construction, Northwestern’s facilities for teachers and students were modest at first and primitive at worst,” he said. “The University was operating with older facilities … (Kresge) marked a new beginning for Northwestern and of course it celebrates Northwestern’s, at that time, 100 years of existence.”

At the ceremony, Leonard opened the copper capsule and presented the three glass containers, which he then broke to reveal scrolls with names of University donors who funded the construction of the building. The capsules also contained a Daily article from January 26, 1953, detailing the laying of the building’s cornerstone. All of the documents were in good shape, which Leonard attributed to the use of helium inside the containers.

The renovated Kresge Hall is set to open for student use this Fall Quarter. Faculty and staff have already begun moving their offices into the facilities.

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