— -- Historians and conservators in Boston are trying to figure out how to extract what they believe is a 113-year-old time capsule that was hidden in the head of a lion -- one of the city's most recognized statues.
The lion and a unicorn are famous statues that have flanked the roof of the historic Old State House in Boston for more than a century. The lion was taken down recently for maintenance and conservator Robert Shure used the time to check out a persistent rumor that a time capsule was embedded in the lion's head in 1901. Shure inserted a fiber optic camera through a small hole in the lion's head and discovered a small copper box hidden there.
Now Shure faces the puzzle of how to get it out. The Bostonian Society hopes to retrieve the box next week.
There had been clues that the time capsule existed.
The Bostonian Society referenced a Boston Globe article from 1901 with the headline "Lion and Unicorn: Copper Box to be Placed in Head of the King of Beasts." The article claims the time capsule box, that had just been completed by the coppersmith at the time of the article's writing, would be placed in the head of a lion.
The article said the box contained "contributions from state and city officials, the Boston daily newspapers, the name of the maker of the lion and unicorns, and others, which will prove interesting when the box is opened many years hence."
The Bostonian Society said they have more ideas of what could be in the box, including sealed letters from notable Bostonians and campaign buttons from Teddy Roosevelt and Rutherford B. Hayes, based on other details in the article and a list provided by an ancestor of the statues' original artist.
Despite the newspaper article, it was still a surprise to find the box in the lion's head.
"There were a lot of people who didn't think it was going to be there," The Bostonian Society told ABC News. "We're pretty confident after seeing the camera footage of the box."
As for the manner of removal, they said that they are "taking it slow" and waiting to make sure they have the best possible method to remove the box. The statue is seamed, so that seems like a likely possibility that it could be safely pried apart.
If Shure succeeds in removing the box, Bostonian Society said that specialists will be ready to handle any materials that are discovered, and they intend to put items on display if they are not too fragile.
"We're really looking forward to opening it," the society said.