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Carnegie time capsule awaits its grand opening

| Thursday, June 4, 2009, 12:00 p.m.

History can be a mysterious, fascinating adventure.

Especially when it involves a time capsule that has been sitting in the cornerstone of the historic Andrew Carnegie Free Library & Music Hall in Carnegie for almost 110 years.

And it appears that the story of the time capsule had been forgotten.

At least until now.

The time capsule, which apparently sits in the northeastern cornerstone of the library, was supposed to be unearthed and opened 10 years ago, in 1999, on the library's 100th anniversary.

It wasn't.

John Chasky, a prominent resident of Carnegie who has served as a councilman and a member of the planning commission, has quite a story to tell about that.

Chasky remembers being at a library event about 50 years ago, when he bumped into an older lady. The lady, whose name Chasky cannot remember, claimed to be in a picture taken in 1904 of Civil War veterans.

The picture was taken in front of the library with some younger women visible in the second-floor windows of the building.

The woman told Chasky about the time capsule and some of its contents. "I just wish I could remember her name," a frustrated Chasky said.

It appears, however, that the time capsule, with all of its contents (which include a copy of what was then The Carnegie Item newspaper) will be unearthed. Some say the capsule includes a brass or copper box.

Also inside the capsule, according to an Oct. 20, 1899, copy of the local newspaper, is a program of the "exercises" of the day; a list of the names of the library commission; the names of the contractors; and various other items.

Maggie Forbes, executive director of the library and music hall, said the best time to confirm all this would be during the library's Civil War Weekend in April.

"We want to do it when there is a good crowd around and people can appreciate it," Forbes said.

Exactly where the time capsule sits is not certain. At first, it was thought that the cornerstone may be at the front of the building, where the "1899" date is engraved; that, however, may not be the case.

But library officials do not think it will be difficult to locate the capsule.

Forbes has spoken with architects doing work at the library now, and they said they can find the capsule in no time.

"They say it's not hard to do this," she said.

Historian Marcella McGrogan has a vast array of memorabilia available at her offices on West Main Street.

The picture of the Civil War veterans is at her office, and Chasky points to the girl in the upper right-hand window as the woman he met in the 1950s.

"It's just really frustrating I can't remember her name. I just hope they find the capsule. I'm really excited about this."

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