Time Capsule From Almost 100 Years Ago Unearthed by Demolition Workers in North Dakota

A time capsule from nearly a century ago has been unearthed by demolition workers in North Dakota. The team was working on the former Law Enforcement Center in the city of Williston when they came across the 91-year-old box.

While removing the original cornerstone of the building—formerly home to the Good Samaritan Hospital, laid on June 15, 1929—the crew discovered a compartment on the underside of the stone housing a sealed metal box, The Williston Herald reported.

Inside this box, workers found several documents of historical value to the city. One dated to June 8, 1929, and contained an invitation to the opening of the Good Samaritan Hospital.

In the letter the building committee chairman, Axel Strom, outlines the history of the construction project and why it was needed to replace the previous Wittenberg Hospital, which was founded in 1916.

"The hospital was begun and for many years has done its work in a frame building, to which two cottages were added, for nurses home," the invitation reads.

Contractors demolishing the former law enforcement center in Williston discovered a time capsule dating nearly a century. https://t.co/wMbFTm8ViP

— The Bismarck Tribune (@bistrib) March 1, 2020

"In 1916 a campaign was put on for a new hospital. While the preliminary campaign in Nov. of that year was very successful, the financial conditions the following year, ensuing upon our entrance into the war, and the following economic conditions following the war precluded any further effort to build a more adequate building.

"In 1927, the Association decided to renew the campaign for a new building, the hospital having long since outgrown its quarters."

In addition to the invitation letter, the time capsule also includes articles of incorporation for the Good Samaritan Hospital, as well as two editions of the Williams County Farmers Press and the Williston Herald from June 12 and 13, 1929, respectively. Both newspapers feature stories relating to the laying of the cornerstone on their front pages.

Stock photo: A demolition site. iStock

After the discovery of the time capsule, workers sent the documents to Williston's attorney, who had the responsibility of deciding whether the city needed to keep any of the documents for its records.

"It's pretty fascinating," Williston city administrator David Tuan told the Herald. "It plays a lot of similarities with what's going on in the community right now, with the need for health care, growth of the town, limited funds. It was very interesting to know that history with the hospital before Mercy [Hospital] came along."

Worker also came across another hidden time capsule while tearing down a wall from a hospital addition built in the mid 1950s. However, many of the contents were damaged in the process.

Williston is located in the west of North Dakota and is the sixth largest city in the state, with a population of nearly 30,000 people.

Correction 03/02/2020 11.37 a.m.: This article originally said Williston is in the east of North Dakota.