Long time no see

By By Ana Breton

By Ana Breton

On Feb. 28, 1957, a ribbon-cutting ceremony was held commemorating the opening of the Union Building.

During this Founders Day Celebration, Union President Ray Olpin placed a time capsule somewhere in the building to be opened on a later date.

The Union Board is holding a 50th anniversary celebration Jan. 17 and 18 to open the notorious time capsule.

Union Board members, however, can’t find it.

Julie Mayhew, director of development in the Union, said rumors among alumni who attended the U in the ’50s claim the metal time capsule was placed inside the Brave Ute statue behind the Union.

Several weeks ago, Mayhew and other board members waited patiently as the statue was searched with X-ray equipment.

The search, however, was unsuccessful.

Luckily, amid the investigation, new evidence about the capsule was found, pointing the board in a different direction.

Kirk Baddley, archivist for the Marriott Library, found a journal entry written by Olpin on Feb. 28, 1957.

“Following the (Founders Day) luncheon, we went out to the fireplace area in the browsing room where a sandstone rock had been removed to permit insertion of a metal container housing records which will be sealed away for the next decade, a sort of cornerstone arrangement,” the entry said. “I wrote out a speech which will be sealed in the cornerstone chest which I gave?in the banquet that evening.”

The entry said the capsule would be opened 10 years after it was first placed, however, no records stating it was opened have been found, so Mayhew is still hopeful the capsule is where it was originally hidden.

The browsing room mentioned in the entry was a room used by students as a reading lounge in the 1950s. Now, the browsing room serves as the headquarters for the Women’s Resource Center.

The 1957 Utonian, the U’s yearbook, contains a picture of President Olpin placing the last cornerstone in the fireplace.

However, Mayhew is having a hard time pinpointing where the picture was taken because the sandstone structure stretches through two floors of the Union and is composed of four different fireplaces.

On the Union’s second floor, two of the fireplaces can be found on either side of the giant structure inside the Women’s Resource Center. On the first floor, one is in the Union inside a conference room–the other faces the outside.

The picture has also confused Union Director Whit Hollis because of what Olpin wore.

Because Olpin’s suit pocket is on the wrong side, Hollis said he suspects the picture was reversed.

The fireplace bricks in the picture, however, have given Hollis clues.

Three out of the four fireplaces have porous bricks where the cornerstone would be placed. Only one, the fireplace on the outside of the Union, has smooth bricks and therefore matches the photograph.

Last Friday, a friend of Mayhew scanned the outside fireplace with a metal detector. Although the detector was not set off, Mayhew is hopeful the capsule is still in there, because the device only scans 6 inches deep.

Now, Mayhew and Hollis are seeking funds to rent an X-ray machine to scan the fireplace, which can cost up to $1,000 per session.

“We’re not sure how big or small the capsule is, but we really want to find it,” Mayhew said.

Hollis said he expects to find paper records, Olpin’s speeches and documents inside the capsule.

“It’s a great scavenger hunt where we get to have fun with history,” Hollis said.

If it is found, the capsule will be displayed during the January celebration alongside a newly made capsule to be opened in 50 years.

But although the new capsule has not yet been created, Mayhew guarantees a plaque will be placed where it is located.

As for what they will put in the new capsule, Mayhew said they are open for suggestions.

“I would put my UCard in it,” Mary Hansen, graduate in psychology, said. “Actually, I would put all my textbooks in that the (U) Bookstore won’t buy back.”

Students with suggestions for the new capsule, as well as with information about where the original capsule may be hidden, are encouraged to contact Mayhew and Hollis at 581-2048.

Mike Terry

Julie Mayhew, director of development for the Union, stands next to one of the four fireplaces in which a missing time capsule was possibly placed 50 years ago. Hoping to find and open it in time for the Union’s 50th anniversary celebration in January, Mayhew and her colleagues are resorting to metal detectors and X-rays to locate the capsule.