The opening of a 101-year-old time capsule Monday from the former Deaconess Hospital revealed that those who filled it were news junkies.
The toaster-sized brass box contained mainly newspapers from Sept. 9, 1911, the day before the cornerstone of the hospital was laid on Humboldt Parkway.
The media landscape back then was chockablock with newspapers, and the time capsule carried copies of six local dailies – the Buffalo Evening News, the Courier-Express, the Buffalo Times, the Buffalo Enquirer and the Buffalo Commercial, as well as two German-language papers, Der Buffalo Demokrat and the Buffalo Volksfreund.
“How come they’re not in orange plastic bags?” someone cracked as officials displayed the contents on a table at HighPointe on Michigan, referring to the bags used today for home delivery of The Buffalo News, the only remaining daily newspaper in the city.
Kaleida Health last week began to demolish Deaconess to make way for a new headquarters for Community Action Organization of Erie County, a local nonprofit human services organization.
Deaconess Hospital closed in 1986. The building was renamed Deaconess Center and housed 242 long-term care beds, a dental clinic and doctors’ offices.
The nursing home closed last December and is now housed, along with 75 skilled-nursing unit beds from the former Millard Fillmore Hospital, in HighPointe on Michigan on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus.
Michael Hughes, spokesman for Kaleida Health, said it will take about five months to make the former hospital site ready for construction.
CAO wants to use the shovel-ready site to build a headquarters, as well as additional office space, a community service center, classrooms and housing. Gethsemane Manor Apartments, a senior living facility located nearby on Kingsley Street, will stay.
The demolition contractor, Ontario Specialty Co., discovered the time capsule Friday in the cornerstone, which notes the dates of the hospital’s founding and construction. Plans are to place the cornerstone in the courtyard at HighPointe.
The time capsule also contained a copy of the hospital’s bylaws and a handful of letters that had disintegrated into too many pieces to be recognizable.
As for the newspapers, the major headlines of the day included a report on the guilty verdict and death sentence of Henry Clay Beattie Jr. in the murder of his wife in Virginia. The case attracted national attention and led to an old folk ballad about his trial and electrocution.
One other big story was about the wedding of John Jacob Astor, considered the richest man in the world at the time, to Madeline Force.
Astor was among those on board the Titanic in 1912 who did not survive. His wife did survive the sinking of the ship.