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Officials hide time capsule at renovated Solano courthouse

time capsule_courthouse 5_14_14

Aaron Holm, project manager for the renovation of the Solano County courthouse, places a time capsule on the cornerstone of the building, Wednesday. The box contains items such as: photographs, badges from local agencies, local newspapers, coins and paper money and keys to cities in the county. (Robinson Kuntz/Daily Republic)

By
From page A1 | May 15, 2014 |

FAIRFIELD — Future generations will get another chance at discovering a time capsule at the Solano County courthouse.

A century ago, workers who built the Solano County courthouse concealed a time capsule in the cornerstone. A newspaper article from the era attests to this, saying the copper box contained a Solano County directory, coins of denominations ranging from 5 cents to $20, a public schools course of studies and many other items.

But workers renovating the courthouse this year for Solano County Superior Court can’t find it, despite a search near the cornerstone. If the copper box is actually inside or underneath the cornerstone, it will remain there.

“The estimate was $20,000 to remove the cornerstone and then they couldn’t guarantee it wouldn’t be damaged,” said Brian Taylor, executive officer of Solano County Superior Court.

Solano County Superior Court officials hid a new time capsule Wednesday morning at the courthouse that’s marked by neoclassic architecture and a towering Doric colonnade. This one is to tell future generations about Solano County, circa 2014.

Among the items inside the silver, metal box are a 2013 Solano County annual report, lapel pins from the county and its seven cities, a Solano Land Trust 2014 calendar, city keys to Dixon and Vacaville, Travis Magazine, copies of local newspapers and a clerk of the court stamp for court documents.

Then there are the photographs, 175 of them. They depict one end of the county to the other, from the downtowns of all seven local cities to Suisun Valley wine country to the Montezuma Hills and its hundreds of wind turbines.

When and if people open the time capsule decades from now, they will be able to see what Solano County looked like in 2014 and consider how it has changed, for better or for worse.

This box is an official time capsule purchased from a company just for that use. It contains preservatives and packets that remove oxygen from the inside. It is sealed with silicon gel.

Taylor and Solano County Superior Court Presiding Judge E. Bradley Nelson came a little after 9 a.m. to put the new time capsule in its resting place. The capsule is in a hollowed-out portion of courthouse exterior wall just above the cornerstone, with a section of the building’s granite facade placed over it.

Today’s time capsule creators have learned a lesson from their predecessors in 1911. The granite facade section can be removed with little trouble. The location of the time capsule is detailed in the renovation drawings.

“Because it’s easier to get it, it’s possible someone 100 years from now will say, ‘Let’s go see what it was like in 2014, when they did the renovation,’ ” Taylor said.

If they are really ambitious, these future searchers might find a way to get the 1911 time capsule that is apparently in or under the nearby cornerstone.

Meanwhile, work continues on renovating the courthouse. The project involves retrofitting the building to modern earthquake standards and remodeling it to once again house courtrooms.

Court officials had hoped to finish the renovation project in time to have a grand opening celebration July 4. Although the courthouse was built in 1911, the original grand opening celebration was delayed until July 4, 1914. It could have been a centennial event.

But Taylor said the courthouse renovation will not be completed in time. Construction should wrap up toward the end of July, with a ceremony likely in September, he said.

Reach Barry Eberling at 427-6929 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/beberlingdr.

Barry Eberling

Barry Eberling

Barry Eberling has been a reporter with the Daily Republic since 1987. He covers Solano County government, transportation, growth and the environment. He received his bachelors of art degree from the University of California, Santa Barbara and his masters degree in journalism from the University of California, Berkeley.
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