Friday, March 25, 2011

Your Ideas Wanted: The Eustis Street Fire House Time Capsule Project

In the coming weeks, masons will seal up walls at the Fire House, which is prompting us put together a time capsule to be inserted in one of the walls, which we hope one day will discovered by future occupants. But what do we put in it to tell our descendants (so to speak) about life in 2011?

Here are some of the things we have brainstormed so far:
  • Newspapers. Perhaps it would be interesting to include both a Globe and a Herald from the same day, as they would likely present the same stories in very different ways.
  • Photographs could be of interest, but what subject? Dudley Square in 2011?
  • Shots of people might be good - but who, and what are they doing in the photo?
  • How about a menu, which will tell about both food trends and cost of living in 2011.
  • Technology is certainly a big part of our everyday lives, but if we leave behind a CD, will those who open the capsule decades from now have the means to play it?
  • Examples of pottery shards and pipe stems similar to things found at the Fire House
Having uncovered several treasures ourselves at the Fire House, we know that we’re often more intrigued by unintentionally discarded items that we find, such as a fragment of a lice comb we found in the fire house excavate. This was probably a common household object centuries ago that no one would've thought much about, but we needed an archaeologist to tell us what it was. What are our lice combs of 2011? Things we use daily that may not really be typical belongings 50 or 100 years from now that we don't really even notice around us? It's fun to speculate about which things will stay with us, and which things will become obsolete.

We invite your suggestions for what should go in the Eustis Street Fire House time capsule. Keep in mind it can't be too big, as it will need to fit in a box roughly the size of a large shoe box. What do you think tells the story of life in Boston in 2011? What might you find intriguing if you encountered a time capsule? Also – where to hide our time capsule? Perhaps in the cornerstone of the building? Somewhere in the basement? If there is anyone out there that has put together a time capsule before, we’d love to hear from you to learn more about the process.

As you can see- we need your help! Please let us know your ideas in the comment section below.


  1. Don't be so afraid of technology. We can still listen to late 19th century cylinders! Put in a CD of what the neighborhood is listening to today for music. Put in a web link that only the viewer will see in the future. Put in the current plans for dudley square so people can see your hopes at this point in time for the future they will see. And put it in the foundation of the building to be opened in 100 years.

  2. In addition to the Globe and Herald, include a copy of the Bay State Banner since it has more of a focus on the immediate community. You can also include collateral materials from other organizations in the neighborhood, including Haley House, Dudley Square Main Streets, and Discover Roxbury.

  3. Anonymous #1- Good thoughts. Thanks for the insight on new and old technology. We love the idea of putting together a CD of contemporary music. Right now we are working on a plan to get others involved in choosing what to put on that playlist- let us know if any of you have ideas for that. We also really like the idea of putting in current Dudley Square planning documents. Thank you for your creative ideas!

    Anonymous #2- Excellent point about the Banner. That will do a great job reflecting what is going on in the neighborhood in 2011. We love the idea of including information from some of our Dudley Square partners too. Thanks!