Masonic Lodge Time Capsule From 1872 Opened
People got a chance to look at the contents of a 146-year-old time capsule from the original Reno Masonic Lodge.
The original Reno Masonic Lodge is history, but as crews tore down the 146-year-old building, it gave some history back. The Masons built their first lodge in 1872, placing a time capsule in the building's cornerstone. The lead box held more than 40 items that were unveiled, Tuesday.
"We knew we were searching for this cornerstone and we hoped we might find a time capsule but when we actually did, we were all so excited that we didn't even know what our first move should be," Niki Gross, Managing Director of Whitney Peak Hotel said. "Who do we call? Who do we tell?"
The Whitney Peak Hotel owners also own the property where the Masonic Lodge once stood. They got help from historians and archaeologists to carefully pick through the time capsule. It included nearly a dozen newspapers from northern Nevada and California and a variety of 19th century coins.
"English sovereigns, coins from Mexico, silver dollars from Carson City and San Francisco," Catherine Magee, Director of the Nevada Historical Society said.
Other items included a harmonica, tuxedo studs, an arrowhead, a Masonic manual and many other artifacts. Most of the items are in one piece but some of the papers did get wet and muddy.
"A lot of that material has disappeared, so it's always fabulous to see the original pieces," Magee said.
The Masons used the building until the early 1900s when it became the Reno Mercantile, which stayed there until 1970. When crews tore the building down, it was the oldest commercial building in Reno.
"It's been a source of pride for northern Nevada masonry to have the oldest purpose building lodge in town and oldest commercial building," Steve Robison, Grand Master of Mason's of Nevada said.
People from around northern Nevada attended the event, to see what the Masons left in the time capsule.
"It's like they sent us a note of what was important to them at the time, what the culture was like at the time," Nathan Digangi, Worshipful Master of Reno Lodge #13 said.
"It shows us that people really wanted to share with us, here in the future, not knowing when that future was and also things that were really important to the Masons at the time," Magee said.
Magee hopes most of the items will go to the Nevada Historical Society but that some could be loaned to a Masonic museum or stay on the Whitney Peak property. Gross says the plan is to build a five-story Extended Stay on the vacant property, using some of the original materials from the Masonic Lodge. It would also include the Masons, who would place the building's cornerstone, possibly with another time capsule.
"We might get a community process going to see how we might approach something like that," Gross said. "It would be a really fun idea to incorporate that into the next phase."
"The fact that they're preserving all that and making use of it, it's going to speak for generations," Digangi said.
Robison says the Masons have built more than 250 buildings throughout Nevada, and that it is a tradition to place a time capsule in the cornerstone. He says there are many in the Truckee Meadows. One of those is Morrill Hall at the University of Nevada, which was built in 1885, when the school moved from Elko.
Original Story: A time capsule from Reno's oldest standing commercial building was opened on Tuesday.
The Reno Masonic Lodge is being demolished for the expansion of the Whitney Peak Hotel during the construction crews found a time capsule in the building's cornerstone.
The old Masonic Lodge dates back to 1872…an elaborate, for that time, 3-story classic that was home to the Reno Mercantile Store, which in 1970 was replaced by a pawn shop.
It was then used for storage by Fitzgeralds Casino, now the Whitney Peak Hotel.