Time capsule found in base of Confederate statue opened

ORLANDO, Fla. - A time capsule that was found hidden in the base of a Confederate statue that stood in Lake Eola Park for nearly 100 years contained the remains of what appeared to be a flag, money, newspapers and more.

City officials found the 3-pound metal box in the top base of the statue, dubbed Johnny Reb, in June while they were relocating the 300-pound monument to Greenwood Cemetery. The statue was moved after critics argued that it was a symbol of slavery and shouldn't be displayed at a city park.

Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer said the city opened the box in the presence of the media to properly document the items.

"I've been mayor for 15 years and a lot of stuff I do is repetitive year after year, but this is something I've never done," Dyer said.

The statue was originally installed in the city in 1911, but was moved to Lake Eola Park in 1917 after it was deemed a traffic hazard, city Historic Preservation Officer Richard Forbes said.

A city worker used a drill bit to access the box because the lock wasn't functioning. Before the box was opened, Forbes showed a photographic image of a painting that was found on top of box.

"It was probably a print of a famous painting," he said.

Each relic, all of which are in fragile condition, was carefully removed from the box and briefly examined.

Among the artifacts was a letter dated Feb. 15, 1911, that had the names of members of the Florida Division of the Daughters of the Confederacy. There was also a booklet of the minutes from the group's 15th annual convention that was held in Ocala in 1910.

Dyer said he was surprised the relics were still intact.

"I thought it was all going to be dust," Dyer said. "I guess the interesting thing to me was if I'm in 1911, what would I want to put in a time capsule to be opened -- whenever, 50 years or 100 years from now -- to give the people of the time capsule a little glimpse into what happened in Orlando in 1911."

Forbes said he was surprised that the booklet and newspapers were in better condition than the money.

"Usually, the money was printed on higher-quality paper," Forbes said.

The city owns the property and will turn it over its history center, Dyer said.

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