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1899 time capsule found in Ballston Spa building

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Updated: 11/20/2013 11:23 pm

BALLSTON SPA, N.Y. - Renovations to the Ballston Spa School District's oldest building led to the discovery of a time capsule dating back to 1899.

A small copper box was discovered behind the cornerstone of the school building on Malta Avenue, a building which was completed in 1900.

At first glance, the deteriorated box doesn't look like much, but inside it held objects dating back to 1899.

"We were really excited, because we had no idea what we would find inside," says Joy Houle, the Executive Director of the Brookside Museum.

Joy Houle says the Ballston Spa School District gave her a call when they first found the box and with their help, they opened it for the first time in 114 years.

Inside were two pennies, from 1884 and 1895, three newspapers, a damaged letter and a business card for David Thompson, the man who built the building.

"I had never heard his name before and that's the whole point of this," says Houle. "He wanted something to remind the future that he existed and what he did. Now here we are remembering it, 100 and something years later."

Houle says time capsules were fairly common for buildings constructed in the 1800s and 1900s.

The newspapers give a glimpse into that time period, with advertisements for flower pots for five and ten cents, an advertisement for "high grade underwear" for men and women and the newspaper itself only cost three cents.

Ballston Spa Superintendent Dr. Joseph Dragone says the district will use these pieces as a part of teaching lesson for students.

"We tie all this in," he says. "The Brookside Museum is a great partner with the district with all the educational programs we do there. The good news is these kinds of things become part of those programs. Ballston Spa has a very, very rich history here in the village and throughout our school community and this is just more evidence on the emphasis on education."

The Brookside Museum was able to carefully remove all of the items for proper identification and preservation.

The items will be on display during the grand re-opening of the Malta Avenue school next September.

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