(Photo by Kelsey Klont/TCJ – Pictured (left to right): Nancy Jones (Treasurer), Mary Haigh (President), Ann Lightfoot (Secretary), Harold Messenger (Vice President))
In 1952, a time capsule was buried in the cornerstones of the Bellevue Elementary School when it was built. It was forgotten about until the deconstruction of Bellevue Elementary School, when members of the Bellevue Historical Society found the cornerstones and were surprised to discover that they were time capsules!
Harold Messenger, Vice President of Bellevue Historical Society, took one of the boxes home to attempt to open it. After three hours of grinding the lead seams of the box made of sheet metal, he achieved opening it successfully, with no harm done to the contents inside. Within the box he found that there were nine envelopes neatly tucked away inside.
On Wednesday, September 14 the Bellevue Historical Society hosted a gathering to open the envelopes found inside of the time capsule. Bellevue Historical Society board members and Society members opened each of the envelopes, which contained various school related documents that pertained to Bellevue Elementary School in 1952.
The first envelope contained two copies of the foundations of a Century of Progress in Bellevue. The second envelope contained a copy of the Bellevue Gazette dated November 1, 1951, that explained the proposals for bonding and building the elementary school. In the third was a copy of the Bellevue Gazette dated November 8, 1951, which held the results of the election about the authorization of the new school to be built and financed. The fourth envelope was a copy of the Bellevue Gazette on October 16, 1952, which was the current edition when the box was buried. The fifth envelope held a copy of “The History of Bellevue” written by John T. Hayt, from 1869. In the sixth envelope there were two copies of the current objectives, methods, and methodology for the elementary school. Envelope number seven contained a copy of the high school handbook. The eighth envelope held a list of the elementary school students and teachers. In the last envelope there was a copy of the personnel of the Bellevue Elementary School, which further included the staff lists of the administration, board of education, clerical, citizens committee, custodial, as well as transportation staff.
Watching the envelopes being opened was thrilling, and it was exciting to get to see these treasures from 73 years ago being brought to light once again.
I asked past secretary of the Bellevue Historical Society, Mary Critchlow, what she thought about the unveiling of the envelopes. She said, “I thought it was very interesting to see how many in attendance there were in the school back then.” I most definitely agree, it was cool getting to see the school rules and dress code from back in the 1950’s! Current President of the Bellevue Historical Society, Mary Haigh shared, “I thought it was going to be more artifacts than letters, like drawings or stories by that were by the students who were interested about their new school. I do believe that the staff had put this time capsule together.”
You can find the Bellevue Historical Society located at 212 N. Main Street in Bellevue, or telephone with questions at 269-763-3369. Interested parties are invited to their monthly meetings held the first Thursday of each month at 1:00 p.m.