Although some still are mourning the demolition of the 1884 courthouse, some of the treasures the building once held are being preserved, and soon could be on display for the public.
Crews from B&B Wrecking and Excavating Inc. of Cleveland removed the cornerstone from the former courthouse Thursday morning, revealing the copper box, a time-capsule from when the building was erected.
Although commissioners said they were planning to remove the items during a public ceremony, the box fell from the cornerstone upon removal, causing it to open. And while the container itself was damaged, its contents were intact.
PHOTOS BY NICK DUTRO
Mark Steinmetz, assistant director for Seneca County Museum, displays a medal Thursday from the Grand Army of the Republic.
Pictured are other items found in a copper box that was inside the cornerstone (below), which was removed from the 1884 courthouse Thursday.
Mark Steinmetz, assistant museum director, and Jim Barth, maintenance supervisor, removed the items during a small gathering at the county maintenance garage.
Some of the prizes include books and newspapers from when the courthouse was built, as well as coins, a medal from the Grand Army of the Republic - a fraternal organization composed of Union veterans who served in the Civil War - and the business card of George Ernest, who manufactured the box. The collection also is to contain a photograph of the courthouse which preceded the 1884 structure.
Brian Baumann, president of B&B said that the company has done a few demolition containing time capsules, but said the items contained in this one were some of the "coolest" he has seen.
The items are to be kept at the Seneca County Museum, where staff is to start the process of archiving the materials, which Steinmetz said are in good shape.
"There were things in the bottom which had gotten some water damage, but the vast majority of it is in fairly good condition," he said. "We can send that out and have it restored and preserved, which I think is what we'll eventually have to get into, this is bigger than what we're probably going to want to get involved with."
Commissioner Jeff Wagner, who was at the site for the removal of the cornerstone and present for the removal of items, was impressed with the contents.
"I didn't know what to expect, there's a lot of really incredible stuff," he said. "The GAR medal is probably the most interesting."
Tonia Hoffert, museum director, said she looks forward to having the momentos on display, which may occur sometime in spring with special showings.
"I'm excited to go through it and read the documents and the writings from the people involved in encapsulating it," she said. "We'll have to meet and decide how to display it. ... I'm sure some people will want to hold it and look at it, so I'm sure there will be some that will be out and they can touch it once it's encapsulized."
The cornerstone also is to be on display at the museum, with plans to have it kept in the carriage house after renovations are made.
Items taken from the copper box are not the only things saved from the building. Contents feared lost, such as decorative wood and etched glass, have been salvaged by private individuals in the area.
Dave Kreais, owner of Antique Warehouse in Tiffin, spent three days removing items from the building to sell at his business, including detailed woodwork, a set of glass-paned doors and the clock, which he plans to restore.
"I'm just glad we could get out what we could," he said.
Kreais has had many calls from people across the United States looking for a remainder from the courthouse. But the clock is the gem of his salvage efforts, and Kreais said he plans to have it restored for public display, using pictures and schematics taken prior to disassembly by local preservationist John Huss.
Outside of the county, Bill Mullen, a member of the Shawshank Redemption Reunion Committee in Upper Sandusky, purchased doors from the building, complete with etched glass.
"The building is irreplaceable, as are the contents - you'll never be able to reproduce those items," he said.
Mullen plans to install the doors at the former Stephan Lumber Co. building, where they would accompany items and locations in a tour celebrating Upper Sandusky, Mansfield and Ashland's involvement in the film "The Shawshank Redemption," which helps raise funds to provide maintenance for the Wyandot County Courthouse. Mullen said tour bus events are to begin in the spring.