West Kittanning to display items from community's past
West Kittanning officials plan to display part of the borough's past in its future borough building on Arthur Street in January.
Borough officials plan to frame, preserve and display the contents of several time capsules found in the former West Kittanning Elementary School during its demolition in February, according to Councilwoman Nancy Capone.
“We didn't even know the time capsules were there until contractors came upon them and uncovered them when some broke,” she said.
The time capsules, which were made from several Mason jars with lids cemented on, were found in the floor boards of an office occupied by custodian John Barber, according to Councilwoman Michelle Cogley.
“There were several notes signed by the custodian, including where he promised to read his Bible daily,” Cogley said. “It's absolutely precious, and it wasn't anything that was planned out by anyone, and wasn't organized.”
The jars included several items with local ties — receipts from the Arcade Department Store and Thompson's Market, along with notes from a local coal company and a poem written by an unknown local author.
Cogley said she first heard about the time capsules while she was at work. She raced home to see what contractors from Infinity Crane had uncovered.
“I absolutely love history, and I went right to the site like I was a kid at Christmas,” Cogley said.
The time capsules contained small pencils, pieces of chalk, candy wrappers, a pink ribbon and milk jug lids. Most of the items are dated between 1936 and 1945, Capone said.
Each item had been well-preserved by the jars, she added.
“It was just like we were meant to find them, even though we didn't even know to look,” Capone said.
Borough officials hoped to tie West Kittanning's history into the new building, especially since it sits on the site of the former school, and saw the time capsules as a good way to present the past, Capone said.
Officials took the time capsules and items to Transue's Tackle & Custom Framing on Butler Road, where Diane Transue preserved and framed several items, Capone said.
Council plans to display two of the time capsules, which were found intact, in a display case in the new building, she added.
“We're not going to break them open, but we will show them, along with different memorabilia, pictures of students and letters from alumni from the school, and some bricks from the building,” Capone said.
“The old school had so many good memories for many people in this community, and we want to preserve that with this display.”
Brad Pedersen is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-543-1303, ext. 1337.