Century Chest Opening
On Monday, April 22, members of downtown Oklahoma City’s First Lutheran Church, along with preservation specialists, will unearth and publicly display the contents of a Century Chest time capsule buried 100 years ago under the church’s basement.
On the same date in 1913, exactly 24 years after the Land Run of 1889, the Ladies Aid Society at the church buried the container of significant items they called "The Century Chest." They had gathered the items from many notable Oklahoma families, businesses and professional organizations, and ordered, in writing, to future church members that the chest would be unearthed April 22, 2013.
From notes left by those who buried the chest, current church members know that the chest is approximately 6 feet long, 3 feet wide and 3 feet deep, made of copper, and enclosed in double cement walls one foot under the ground. The exact placement of the chest is marked by a concrete cover at floor level with an inscription and date.
There is a book written by the original committee detailing the contents of the chest. According to the list, the chest includes items such as: original paintings, historical photographs, Native American relics and art, pottery, poems and musical compositions, a Kodak camera, Oklahoma City newspapers, a forecast of Oklahoma City in 2013 written by leading professional men, and much more.
A public event to view the contents of the Century Chest will be held Monday, April 22 at 10am at the First Lutheran Church, located at 1300 North Robinson Ave. in downtown Oklahoma City. The event, featuring the live opening of the chest, guest speakers and refreshments, is free and open to attendees of all ages, including school groups.
“The members of the First Lutheran Church have been dedicated to protecting the chest for 100 years, and they are excitedly awaiting the day we can finally see all the treasures our forefathers so thoughtfully sealed for us a century ago,” said the church’s Pastor Jerry Peterson.
The church has partnered with the Oklahoma Historical Society to ensure the chest is removed by experts and that all the enclosed items are handled properly. The complete contents of the chest will be preserved and exhibited at the Oklahoma History Center later this year.
“The historical significance of The Century Chest is really beyond measure. There are no other large time capsules like this anywhere in the region that we know of. The items that are said to be in the chest are very valuable to our state and country’s history,” said Chad Williams, director of research at Oklahoma Historical Society. “I’m anxious to see the condition of the items, although it sounds like they were very delicately preserved.”
Where: First Lutheran Church of Oklahoma City
Address: 1300 N. Robinson