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JONESBORO, Ark. (AP) — A Jonesboro parish was surprised with an unexpected gift: A time capsule that included a letter detailing the church’s history and an old newspaper about its construction.

Nabholz Construction workers were removing the foundation stone from the front facade of the former Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church when they discovered the time capsule, the Jonesboro Sun reported.

“It was by accident,” Rev. Alphonse Gollapalli said. “We knew it was there somewhere, but we didn’t know where it was. I was dumbfounded. I didn’t even know they were going to work on this. They caught me by surprise.”

The tin box — which had Stewart Bros. Tin Shop, Oct. 1, 1933, scratched onto the inside surface — contained the written history with a medallion attached to it; a 1931 ORDO, a book providing the calendar of events for liturgical purposes; a 1930 penny, an 1851 Liberty Head gold dollar; pictures of the then-current pastor and bishop as well as the building’s contractor; and the Nov. 7, 1932, edition of the Jonesboro Daily Tribune that contained a front-page story about the church building’s construction.

Rev. Gollapalli is not yet sure what he will do with the findings. He said parishioners will be shown the items and then it will likely be deposited with the Diocese of Little Rock to be archived.

Robert Cowles, the church historian, will also make a digital record of all the items as well for the church’s records. He said the church has few records and pictures from that time period so the items will help.

The find came three days after the church building’s final mass on Sunday when Rev. Gollapalli and Bishop Anthony Taylor decommissioned the building in preparation to move to a new location.

Construction of the Church Street building began in 1932 and ended the following year. It is set to be razed by the end of December. Work began Monday to remove items, such as the foundation stone, to be restored and/or put in storage until a new church building is constructed at 1105 E. Highland Drive.

Carol Windle, the church’s music director, had unexpectedly stopped by the old church to move sound equipment when she noticed the Nabholz workers outside. She said she began photographing their removal of the foundation stone and couldn’t help squealing in delight when the tin box was revealed.

Afterward, Windle and others began excitedly sharing the news with others, including St. Bernards Development Foundation President Marilyn Hummelstein, who stopped by shortly after being notified.

“I’m the one who’s been looking for everything at the annex,” Hummelstein said smiling.

The time capsule is not an unexpected find for a building constructed in the 1930s, according to Adam Seiter, a Nabholz senior project manager and parishioner of Blessed Sacrament.

“You know when we tore the annex down over by St. Bernards. They had the big statue of Mary up at the top and we found coins underneath there,” Seiter said. “They were medallions from I am going to say the nuns that were here. They put them under there.”

In buildings of this age, he said constructions workers definitely expect to find time capsules and other historic items.

“We’ve told anybody doing any kind of demolition out here as much as possible to keep their eyes open for time capsules, things like that,” he said. “We really didn’t expect to find that on the first day.”


Information from: The Jonesboro Sun,