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Second time capsule found at former site of Robert E. Lee statue in Richmond

By Amir Vera and Paul P. Murphy, CNN

A second time capsule was found where the Robert E. Lee statue once stood in Richmond, Virginia, a Virginia Department of Historic Resources spokesperson said Monday.

A copper box was found beneath the pedestal, “below grade in a very wet area,” said department director Julie Langan, adding it is “too soon to know whether water infiltrated the box.”

The box weighs 36 pounds, Langan said. It measures 13.5 inches by 13.5 inches by 7.5 inches.

“They found it! This is likely the time capsule everyone was looking for. Conservators studying it — stay tuned for next steps! (Won’t be opened today),” Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam tweeted Monday. He later said the box will be opened at 1 p.m. Tuesday.

“X-rays give a first look inside the time capsule: Experts believe there may be coins, books, buttons, and even ammunition from the Civil War,” he tweeted.

The capsule was brought to the conservation lab at the Department of Historic Resources where conservators began assessing it, Langan said. “Next we will try to determine how the box is sealed and whether the seal has been breached.”

Richmond’s bomb squad was first consulted to make sure it was safe to open.

Langan said two paper conservators will be present when the box is opened.

“It is a second time capsule and likely the one that was known to have been placed in the pedestal,” Langan said. “The one recovered last week was unexpected and likely left by men involved in the construction.”

First time capsule was found in the Lee pedestal

The first container was found December 17 while workers were dismantling the statue’s 40-foot pedestal on Monument Avenue in Richmond, according to a news release from Northam’s office.

The 12-ton statue of Lee on his horse, which was removed in September, had become a focal point for racial justice protests in Richmond — the former capital of the Confederacy.

The first capsule was found in the tower of the pedestal, about 20 feet above ground level. Among the items found inside the lead container were an 1875 almanac, two withered books, a coin and a cloth envelope.

Historians believe the first time capsule was placed on October 27, 1887, and included about 60 items that were donated by 37 Richmond residents, many of which were related to the Confederacy, according to the governor’s office.

The state plans to store the pedestal until officials decide what to do with the partial monument.

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CNN’s David Williams, Sharif Paget and Sara Smart contributed to this report.

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