OT, sort of: So what would you put in a time capsule?

drbeanie2000March 20, 2012

I don't want to hijack the "Weird things found in old houses" thread, but a couple people mentioned finding time capsules, and leaving time capsules. I thought, "*I* wanna do that!" but then wondered what I'd put in it.


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I just put a tin box in the wall of my kitchen when I did the 'to the studs' remodel. I put old photos of the house from the 1950's that the previous owner gave me, complete with a description of the people involved, one who actually built the house. I included before photos of the kitchen (when I bought the house), and a synopsis of who I was, and what I had done up to that point to the house, as well as the history of the house, since I'm only the 3rd owner. I included the front page of the local newspaper and a CD. Both of which probably won't be around when the wall is reopened (newspapers and CD's that is). Oh, and I also included a receipt for the drywall and some building materials to give an idea of what things cost. When I tore the wall open, I found a receipt from 1935 for the local paper, so I photocopied that and included it as well. I sure hope the photocopies last in that tin box. May be a lot of fun for whomever opens it someday.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2012 at 11:33PM
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When we did a major renovation and moved the main staircase to where it was originally we put in under the stairs the following:
> Sunday Boston Globe with all ads
> pictures of the street, downtown area and anything significant in the neighborhood
> all our house plans
> copy of my blog to date on the process of the home renovation with pictures
> 2 letters each from my 2 kids (DD and DS) on a typical Saturday and school day. I had them put in things like hitting the snooze button and turning on the light. I explained that it would have been very different from the kids who lived here in 1825 and had to light candles, etc.

All of this double wrapped in contractor bags. I hope it survives and don't expect it to be open for 100+ years. I will also have most of this as a package when we my kids sell the house when we're long gone (plus pictures of open walls with a homemade yard stick showing all the studs.)

    Bookmark   March 21, 2012 at 8:40AM
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I've demolished many old homes and have no idea at all how many time capsules the backhoe operators scooped up, dumped, crunched and discarded.

Intentional historical time capsules are typically mundane and the items largely turned to dust.

Instead, bury yourself in a desert (or the permafrost) and your mummy may fascinate future arachaeolgists millenia from now. Really puzzle them: entomb yourself with an IPad 3; teens with a Blackberry wired to their thumbs.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2012 at 7:46PM
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Well, good luck finding permafrost in the near future--with the warming of the arctic, the permafrost is thawing, as can be read on news reports and such, causing problems with houses built upon it. If trapped methane should escape from these layers, warming will accelerate even faster, methane being a better heat retarder than carbon dioxide.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2012 at 12:14AM
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To forstall Worthy's backhoe nightmare do this: next time you have occasion to re-file your deed (say you subdivide, or take a second, or put an easement on the land) simply add a sentence or two stating that there is a time capsule and where it is in the house. That way any owner - and there will be someone holding title to OK the back hoe work - will know of the capsule.

If you own your property outright, you can usually simply file an ammended copy of your deed with the new language added to it. Often you do it for nearly no cost, too. (If you have a mortgage changes to the deed, even benign ones like this, need to be accepted by them, often a big pain to work out.)

What Oldhouse and BostonPam described would send me to ecstatic joy to uncover in my old house. I would be so grateful to find something even a fraction as interesting. Don't hesitate, do it!


    Bookmark   March 22, 2012 at 12:22AM
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When I have tiled a bathroom I put my business card with the daily newspaper. I also bought a copy of a 1965 newspaper at a yard sale I put that with a current copy and buried it when we got underground utilities.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2012 at 2:04AM
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I would certainly include a major Sunday newspaper complete with all the sales circulars, etc. Personally I like looking at old advertisements and seeing what things cost "back then."

    Bookmark   March 23, 2012 at 12:16AM
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I did one in every house we built or like now restored.I have a 1700 brick farm house,they had a piece out of wall I stuck it in there,I put local newspaper,copies of all my deeds from the house ,land drawings,when we bought this the person in charge of the estate sent me all the deeds to 1800 and land drawings,they didnt keep records till 1800 here,I also put names of all that worked on house a brief history about the house,I put money,one of all,dollar.coins,I put a piece about us and some photos,will make for some interesting reading one day,Our other house hubby built so I did money,newspaper,photos of it being built,when we built the barn I wrote about barn,who built it & all.Dates etc.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2012 at 4:46PM
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We have some dead space under a corner of our kitchen counter, and I tossed in a This Old House magazine (LOL) and a copy of our monthly neighborhood newspaper. Our kitchen walls were crumbling lath and plaster coated in lead paint. I used a Sharpie to write a note on the wall to future homeowners, in which I apologized for not spendign the money to remove the lead paint. Then we covered the original walls with 1/4" sheetrock :-)

Come to think of it, since that time, we've found out some amazing information about the original owner of our house when it was built in 1913, and I may need to open that space up again and make an addition. Here's what we found out, through old property records and newspaper articles: apparently the first owner of the house meant to retire in it, but died shortly after moving in. His grief-stricken wife died the day of his funeral. They had one daughter, who married young and apparently unhappily, and in the 1920s, she left her husband and 7 (!) children and was never heard from again.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2013 at 7:19PM
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