Time Capsule found: Contains records of local history, bibles, July 1866 copy of The Warwick Advertiser

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:17

    WARWICK-When the Rev. Dr. Tyng placed a time capsule in a small crypt near the cornerstone of the foundation of Christ Church during a building dedication ceremony on July 17,1866, he could never have known that the capsule would lie undisturbed and forgotten for almost 140 years. He would not know the story of an intrepid local writer and historian who recently discovered the existence of the time capsule while researching old church documents for her book. Rev. Dr. Tyng would not know that the next hands to touch this historic treasure would be those of a fascinated 11-year-old boy, son of the current Rector of Christ Church, who braved the dark recesses of a foundation crawl space to remove the box from its dusty hiding place. He would never know that the discovery of the capsule would coincide almost to the day, with the celebration of Christ Church's sesquicentennial. He would not know, but he may have hoped. The story continues in 2004 with local writer and historian Ivy Tulin who noticed during her walks around South Street, that the homes surrounding the Christ Church's Carpenter Gothic building appeared to date from the same period. She had a hunch that the presence of Christ Church and its strong devotion to community outreach even in those early years had inspired the growth of the surrounding community. This fall she set out to test her theory by researching and writing a book on the social and cultural history of Christ Church and its neighbors, from their beginnings in 1854 to the present day. Ivy pored through old newspapers and other historical documents at the local library and she recovered boxes of documents stored undisturbed for decades in the attic of Christ Church. Among the documents found in the church attic were Bibles from 1857 and 1870; original vestry meeting journals 1862-1898 which are highly detailed records of times, places, people and events in local history; and correspondence between rectors, bishops, vestrymen, and repair people. Ivyncovered an interesting "Declaration of Women's Independence" from 1936 in which 36 women of the parish insisted on the rights of vestry membership and voting privileges in recognition of their years of hard work in many church ministries. The document reveals that at the time, women outnumbered men in the parish by 2 to 1. Most surprising among her finds, Ivy discovered a document that listed the contents of a time capsule buried in July 1866, at an undisclosed spot in the church's foundation. Immediately, Ivy contacted Rector J. Scott Barker, and the search for the capsule was on. Ivy searched for weeks, enlisting the help of anyone with interest and expertise. She used a metal detector at one point, to no avail. There was urgency to her search because she wanted to find the capsule in time for the church's sesquicentennial celebration on Oct. 16. Finally after many fruitless attempts, Ivy called upon her father Michael Jordan, a building contractor, and her husband, Michael Tulin. On Oct. 13, the men paced the exterior of the church's foundation looking for clues. Husband Michael returned to the basement of the church with a flashlight and inspected the area of the cornerstone. He was intrigued by an old crawlspace in the corner of the basement, where he noticed an oddly placed row of bricks. Quickly, he requested tools and summoned Rev. Barker for assistance. Using what they could find including a crowbar, ice chipper, screwdriver, and hammer, Tulin squeezed himself into the dark crawlspace and chipped away some bricks to reveal a piece of weathered copper. He had found the box. The chamber containing the capsule was a double-walled, brick vault, located a small distance away from the building's foundation. The time capsule had been placed in the vault and then an internal cornerstone was laid atop it. It was sealed with cement. Father Barker's 11-year-old son Sam had just arrived home from school and made his way to the basement. Sam was fascinated and crawled into the dark, cramped space to offer Tulin his help. After Tulin removed few more bricks, Sam took over and wrapped his small hands around the tight-fitting object and pulled from the dust of 150 years, a long, narrow copper box, which was in remarkably fine condition. The box was inscribed, "J.L.Sutton, Maker, July 16, 1866". Sam exclaimed, "This is the most exciting thing that's happened in my life so far!" The capsule contains the following items according to documentation: Holy Bible, Book of Common Prayer, Constitutions and Canons of Protestant Episcopal Church and Diocese of New York, church journal, Church almanac of 1866, pamphlets, church and secular papers, currency of the day, dedication of the cornerstone, name of Rector Nicholas F. Ludlum, names of warden and vestrymen, name of architect David Jardine, name of builder, Henry McElroy. There is also a copy of The Warwick Advertiser for the week of July 14, 1866, believed to be the earliest existing copy of the Warwick newspaper founded in January, 1866. The capsule, which is soldered shut, could be easily opened. For now, however, Father Barker is consulting with document preservation experts on the safest way to open it without degrading the contents. Once the box is safely opened and its contents studied, Father Barker and parishioners will determine where and how to re-inter the capsule with additional materials from present day as a gift to future generations. Meanwhile, Ivy Tulin, will continue, with the help of church volunteers, to carefully recover, read, categorize and preserve the wealth of documents found in the church attic. Ivy admits that even with all this documentation, a big part of the full history of Christ Church and its community is still locked away in the many attics and basements of the community's historic old farms and homes. Christ Church formally celebrated its sesquicentennial on the weekend of Oct. 16. The celebration kicked off with a festive dinner dance at the church on Saturday evening. A large display of historic church photographs and documentation held the attention of the partygoers, but nothing could trump everyone's fascination at the first glimpse of the historic copper-boxed capsule. It was the talk of the evening. The next morning, a Eucharistic Mass was celebrated featuring the world premiere of parishioner and local composer/conductor David Crone's setting of the mass, commissioned by Christ Church for the occasion. Father J. Scott Barker celebrated the mass jointly with three former Christ Church Rectors, Rev. Leonel Mitchell who served as Rector from 1959-1964; Rev. Raymond Harbort 1971-1987; and Rev. Mark Cyr, 1993-2000. Revs. Mitchell, Harbort, and Cyr reminisced with parishioners at a reception before mass, recalling their respective tenures at Christ Church, offering a mix of personal anecdotes and church history. Christ Church's long and proud history of strong faith and commitment to its community are a thread that connects the parish to its wonderful past. Now, that history helps point a direction to the future for this congregation who are, in the words of Father Barker, "joyful and forward-looking " as they embark on their next 150 years.