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Saugus searches for missing time capsule buried near new school’s construction site

item file photo The Sept. 18, 1954 Item anticipated a huge turnout for the 325th anniversary in Saugus, when a time capsule was buried. The town has been searching for that capsule to no avail. (Item file photo)

SAUGUS — The excitement of the start of construction on a new middle-high school has dug up some trepidation with the historical commission.

The location of a time capsule that was buried on Sept. 17, 1954 is unknown, said Steve Carlson, chairman of the commission.

“There was one put in when the building was built in 1954,” he said. “We’ve had reports that it was buried near the building. We don’t know where. That’s one of the reasons we’re asking questions.”

Newspaper articles from the day it was buried say it was placed beneath the building’s cornerstone, but the commission has received substantial information that indicates it is located somewhere else on the property, possibly in the circle in front of the main entrance.

The copper capsule was built by Stanley Piwowarski and William McKay of the high school advisory committee. It is said to be filled with historic documents and records, including a book of signatures from all students and teachers in the Saugus Public Schools in 1954.

The new middle-high school will be constructed on the same property as the existing high school.

The new school will be 270,000 square feet with a 12,000 square-foot gymnasium, 750-seat auditorium and capacity for 1,360 students. It will have state-of-the-art science labs and technology classrooms, fine and performing arts classrooms, a sports complex and outdoor track, outdoor classroom space, and student gardens.

Upon completion, which is expected to be in 2020, the old building will be torn down to make space for fields.

Meanwhile, historians have been working to preserve records of Saugus High School before it is torn down. Resident Jim Harrington is taking interior photographs and using drones to take aerial, exterior photographs. It is the goal of the historical commission to supplement the documentation done by PMA Consultants, the firm working on the new school building project.

The photographs will provide a permanent record of the school for future generations.

The time capsules burial coincided with a three-day event to celebrate the town’s 325th anniversary in 1954.

“The time capsule was to be placed in the cornerstone,” said Marilyn Carlson, vice-chairwoman of the commission. “That’s what we’re trying to authenticate. We know that was the intent but we don’t know if it happened.”

Carlson said she signed the book inside the capsule at eight years old. She was a third grader at The Felton School, which is now the Senior Center.

“We’re trying to pin this down because when they take a wrecking ball to demolish that building, we want that time capsule,” she said. “There’s a lot of history in it.”

Anyone who remembers the time capsule’s burial or has information about its whereabouts is asked to contact the historical commission.

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