A little background info:
I have worked in the limestone business for 17 years as a rip sawyer. I run a large, water-cooled steel blade with diamond teeth to saw through limestone slabs. We ship finished building limestone worldwide. Any big limestone buildings you see (Empire State Building, Pentagon, banks, universities, etc.) are probably either our handiwork or one of our handful of local competitors in Lawrence County.
Anyway, while working on a little local job we are currently running, they delivered a large cornerstone to the mill to be refabricated as they wanted to save it. It was a rather thick stone, just like the dated cornerstones you see on buildings. Newer limestone buildings use thinner panels, usually around 4" thick. They wanted me to saw out the inside of the stone, leaving a 4"-thick L-shaped cornerstone with the original carvings on the two sides. Don't worry -- I didn't ruin the cornerstone itself.
My foreman looked at it and said that it looked like there was a hidden compartment in it -- many cornerstones have time capsules in them. Assuming this, I just took off a small amount at a time, so as to not saw through anything. After sawing through a side section and finding nothing, the mill superintendent comes along and says that he doesn't believe that there is anything in it and to go ahead and make my main cut through it. After making that cut, I peeked down into the 3/8" wide sawcut and saw paper. I then informed the foreman that there was a time capsule in it, and that I had indeed sawed right through it. The mill superintendent had them take it down to the other end of the mill and have a stone carver cut it open by hand.
After about a half hour, he had it open. Inside was a large copper box sealed in black tar. I'd sawed off one entire end of the box, and it was full of water from my saw. Some of the contents were damaged by my saw blade. I didn't get to see the contents, but they said that there were sealed envelopes, lots of black and white photographs, a couple of books, various paperwork, and even some type of "nudie" magazine. The superintendent scooped it all up, placed it in a cardboard box, and took it to the main office. I heard that they were trying to dry it all out in front of fans. I wonder what was in it.
Anyway, I did find out that it is for a job in Crawfordsville, IN. The cornerstone had the following inscriptions on the two sides that faced outward:
June 19, 1866
Phi Gamma Delta
Anyone know anything about the building? It sounds like a frat house. They are either remodeling it, or adding an extension to the existing building. The cornerstone will be shipped back and replaced into the building.
Dude! The Fijis are gonna be upset!
Yeah, that's a frat house, but I don't know which one it is currently. If it's the same house they're in now, it's on the north end of the campus, near the soccer fields.
I really, really, really hope the contents can be saved. Did the superintendant notify the customers right away? They might want someone with some expertise in such areas (like museum people) to try to fix the damage.