A few years ago, I was surprised when someone asked me about the sundial and time capsule in Bruce Park. I decided to research this in the Greenwich Time. When I looked up "time capsule" in the newspaper index, I was surpised to find out that there were actually several around town! The one I knew about is located in Bruce Park. I was surprised to find out there is one in Binney Park, one at Hamilton Avenue School, and one at Albertson Spiritual Church in Old Greenwich. A Fronio family also allowed some Girl Scouts to bury a time capsule on their property.
The first time capsule I read about was installed in Binney Park, and was commemorated on November 11, 1990. It was the brainchild of Yumi and R. Jackson Smith. The 350th Town Anniversary Committee had commissioned it's construction. The project to build the capsule was called "Timecap 90". Five-thousand-dollars was donated by the Committee, and twenty-five-thousand had to be raised from public funds. Union Trust acted as an agent to collect $5 donations. Anyone who donated would be put on a list to be placed in the capsule. In return, donators would get a pin that read "I'm in Timecap 90". The Smith's consulted with experts at the Smithsonian and National Archives to determine the best design for the capsule. The final design was a 3' x 6' concrete cylinder that was lined with tar for weatherproofing. Acid proof paper was used and items were placed in rubbermaid containers. No metal was allowed due to the danger of rust. Since the Committee hoped donators would be around in 2040, the schools were surveyed to see who should be allowed to donate items. Town personalities were also asked to write on art, fashion, fads, finance, sports, society, international and national events. Children chosen represented the Scouts, dance, hockey, cooking, academics, and football. Local celebrities Ivan Lendl, Tim Teufel, Tom Seaver and George Bush donated items. A 350th Anniversary flag was included. Books written by Helen Binchy Kitchell were added. The 1-ton cap was sealed at 3 pm on November 11, 1990. The time capsule in Binney Park is located southeast of the flagpole near the corner of Wesskum Wood Road.
Perhaps the least-known time capsule is that one associated with Bruce Park. At the request of the Town Millenium Committee, a sundial and time capsule were installed in November 1999. This time a metal time capsule sealed with silicon was buried near the base of the "gnomon",or sundial needle, which contains letters, pictures, trinkets, coins, baseball cards, and American Indian arrowheads. Students from Greenwich Country Day and Hamilton Avenue School were asked to suggest and donate items to be included in the capsule. A concrete cap was placed over the capsule. The sundial is a Stonehenge-like structure that has a long needle buried 6 feet in the ground at an angle of 41.5-degrees. Its highest point is 19-feet above the ground. There are 15 granite tablets, representing 15 hours - which is the maximum number of hours of sunlight on the longest day of the year. Stone sculptor Mark Mennin spent 6-months carving the stones! It's parallel with the earth's axis, and points directly at the North Pole. The sundial, which cost $160,000,symbolizes Greenwich's affiliation with Greenwich,England, which is home of Greenwich Mean Time - the basis of Standard Time. It also represents Connecticut as a timepiece manufacturing leader.
A large cement "box" near the road has a plaque on top, which explains how to use the sundial, and where the time capsule is located - as well as when it is to be opened (in 1,000 years).
In November 1995, the Albertson Memorial Church in Old Greenwich opened a time capsule that had been planted in a building cornerstone on October 5, 1894. It was opened after a hundred years, only to yield a pile of ash! Reportedly coins, postage stamps, socks, hymn books, a Bible and an invitation and program for the "burial" ceremony were included in the box. Only part of a 3-inch horseshoe survived. The ash and horseshoe were given to the Historical Society for safe keeping. Coinciding with the opening of the new Cos Cob Library was the burying of a time capsule inside the building. On November 6, 1999, a time capsule containing written letters from Cos Cob School and Central Middle School was sealed in one of the library rooms. A $2500 grant was received from American Express for the project. The capsule will be opened in 2030 to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the Cos Cob Library. From that point on, the capsule will be "generational" - opened every 30 years.
On a smaller level, a time capsule buried by 12 girl scouts was buried on the Fronio property in Cos Cob in June of 1997, and was scheduled to be opened 9-years later. The capsule was a flower-covered box, wrapped in plastic. Inside was a minature straw hat, a red handkerchief, pictures,and letters. The purpose of the time capsule was to force a reunion of sorts in hopes that the girls would stay connected over the years.
Finally, during the re-construction of Hamilton Avenue School, it was rumoured that a time capsule had been sealed in the doorway of the school in 1938. Despite care taken by construction workers and several volunteers searching for the capsule, no such object was found. Dominic Christiano, a brick layer/mason, told his daughters several years ago that he had been instructed to leave a granite panel unsealed until the school had a ceremony to seal the capsule. To the best of my knowledge, it has never been found!!
Photos by Carl White