By Jordan Cohen
If you own a metal detector or know someone who does, the superintendent of Niles schools would like your help, and the sooner, the better.
“We believe there is a time capsule buried near the statue of William McKinley in front of the old high school and we’d like to find it before the building is torn down,” said Frank Danso, interim superintendent.
“If we can get one or two people with metal detectors to help us, we can start searching immediately.”
The capsule was buried by the graduating class of 1964, but no records have been found that pinpoint its location. At the time, the area where the capsule was buried was grass covered. In the years since, the grass has been replaced with concrete.
The old school, built in 1957, closed its doors last week with the opening of the new $27 million high school. Danso said an “abatement” process including asbestos removal from the now vacant building is scheduled to begin April 29 with demolition to follow when removal is completed.
“Once that begins, I doubt we’ll be able to continue searching and we may never find it,” Danso said.
Recollections by class members differ, but all agree that the capsule was placed in a metal box near the statue. Leo Violette of Niles, whose late wife, Karen, was in that graduating class, said she occasionally talked about the capsule.
“She said it was buried directly under the statue,” Violette said.
Danso said he was contacted by another class member who recalled watching the ceremonial burial near the statue from a classroom window. She told him that after a reunion in 2000, several class members used metal detectors to try to find it, but with no success.
The superintendent says no one seems certain about the capsule’s contents. “I’ve heard there may be tags in there that students wore to games and also a yearbook,” Danso said. There has also been speculation that one of the contents may be a Beatles record because 1964 was the year the British group debuted in America and became a national obsession.
Danso said that if the capsule is recovered, its contents will be prominently displayed in the new high school. Plans also call for the McKinley statue to be removed, cleaned and placed near the building.
Anyone with a metal detector who would like to help search for the capsule is asked to call the superintendent’s office at 330-652-2509.