FAIRMONT - At 10 a.m. on Dec. 12, 1949, a handful of school officials and interested citizens braved the cold temperatures to be present for the placement of a time capsule, marking the construction of William Budd School.
The capsule, a copper box, was buried inside the cornerstone placed that morning. For decades, the box, reported to contain only three items - a transcript of the school board minutes involving the naming of the school and two Sentinel articles about the project - sat undisturbed in the northwest corner of the building.
On Tuesday morning, in the research library of the Pioneer Museum, the copper box was pried open and its contents revealed to a roomful of current and former school administrators, teachers and Mayor Randy Quiring.
Jim Marushin, left, and Lenny Tvedten of the Martin County Historical Society open the William Budd Elementary School time capsule Tuesday at Pioneer Museum in Fairmont.
Museum curator Jim Marushin wore gloves to protect the old papers from oils as he carefully unfolded item after item. He found many more than three items in the box.
The first item was a Gideons pocket New Testament, badly damaged by water and rust. Next was a copy of a blank teacher's contract, examples of report cards, a permanent record, a list of teachers at the school, two full Sentinel newspapers from Aug. 9, 1949, and Dec. 10, 1949, and a copy of the minutes of a school board meeting.
The papers were yellowed and speckled with rust spots after spending nearly 62 years in the copper box.
The August newspaper, heralding a fire at a Winnebago furniture store, contained an article about William Budd and a description of how the school board came to the decision to name the school. Other names being considered were Arthur Nelson School, Albion Heights or Roosevelt School.
The December issue, headlined "Ex-Convict Hangs Himself in Jail" contained an article about the cornerstone of Budd School.
Lenny Tvedten, executive director of the Martin County Historical Society, was surprised by the condition of the paper inside the box.
"That thing was sealed tight," he said.
The box was closed during construction of what was lauded as one of the most modern school building constructed in the Northwest, according to Tvedten.
A nurse's office with sick bay, visual aids room, project room, library with workroom and gymnasium that converted to a lunchroom were a few of the amenities in the $375,000 school.
The items from the time capsule eventually will be put on display in the museum's school room, along with the copper box and cornerstone.
"They are going to have to put it under glass," Tvedten said, "as you can see by its condition."
The museum received the time capsule about a week ago after it was released from the cornerstone during demolition at William Budd School.