The Oklahoma History Center, in partnership with First Lutheran Church of Oklahoma City, has launched a new website which shares information about the church's historic Century Chest.
Chad Williams, deputy director of research for the history center, said the website is “home base” for the project and a way for the public to satisfy its curiosity about the time capsule.
“It's the companion piece to tell more details about the Century Chest,” he said.
The First Lutheran Century Chest is a 100-year-old time capsule that contained a plethora of city and state history, including American Indian artifacts and historical documents, pottery made from Oklahoma soil, commemorative plates and other memorabilia, photographs, recorded speeches (for a phonograph) by noted historians and civic leaders, a phonograph, clothing, and copies of a special Century Chest edition of The Oklahoman.
Church members, a host of dignitaries, elected officials and citizens placed the time capsule in a 6 feet long, 3 feet wide and 3 feet tall copper container and buried and sealed it in the basement floor of the church, 1300 N Robinson.
Williams said the chest hasn't been opened yet, but church leaders plan to do so soon.
The time capsule and its contents will be the focus of a ceremony set for April 22, 2013, exactly 100 years after its burial. Williams said the history center will premiere a major exhibit featuring items from the time capsule in the fall. He said the public may obtain information about both events by visiting the website for updates.
“The church wants to share this with the state,” Williams said. “They believe it is Oklahoma's.”
Williams said the Century Chest idea was inspired by a century chest that was buried in a building wall in Colorado. He said the First Lutheran Church congregation took the basic concept and expanded it.
Williams said he has been impressed with how meticulous the Century Chest coordinators were. He said the time capsule started out originally as a fundraiser to pay for a new church organ and the project evolved into a community affair to mark the 24th anniversary of the 1889 Land Run. Eventually, it became a statewide event.
“It really inspires people because it's such a one-of-a-kind,” he said. “It's not your regular time capsule — it's the mother of all time capsules.”
Williams said the website will eventually include film footage of the opening of the time capsule. He said items from the chest will be photographed and those photographs also will be featured on the site.
Currently, a countdown clock may be viewed on the website as church members and history center officials make plans to unveil the chest's contents for the April 22 public ceremony and celebration.
Williams said he is eager for the unveiling.
“In my job as director of research, this is the most exciting project I've ever worked on just because this is pure Oklahoma history,” he said.