After a couple solid hours of cutting away at the mortar that sealed in a cornerstone of McClain High School placed more than a century ago, a metal box was revealed Thursday carrying the seemingly intact relics of a long ago time.
According to information provided by McClain High School Principal Jason Potts, the cornerstone was laid on May 20, 1914 and Audleigh Doster, representing the class of 1914, put the metal box in its place within the stone.
The stone, bearing the inscription “AD 1914” on its front, sits beside the front entrance doors to McClain High School. The removal of the time capsule was a prelude to the three days of activities planned for this weekend to celebrate McClain’s centennial year.
McClain High School was a gift from Greenfield native, industrialist, and philanthropist Edward Lee McClain and his wife, Lulu. The school was dedicated on Sept. 1, 1915 and not long thereafter the first students filed into its hallways and classrooms, which are peppered with about 200 art pieces – reliefs, murals, statues, and paintings that remain today.
On Thursday, Rob Dojonovic with Ohio Concrete Sawing and Drilling began cutting around the cornerstone with a 6-inch saw and when that didn’t make its way through the length of mortar he switched to a 10-inch saw. It was the hydraulic chain saw that finally broke the stone free, allowing the estimated 200- to 400-pound cornerstone to be slid away from the wall enough to reveal where the time capsule had been sealed into the top of the stone more than 101 years ago.
Throughout the time that it took to get through the material around the stone, a crowd gathered that included students, staff, members of the community, and McClain graduates, among whom was Helen Grimm, who graduated from McClain more than 70 years ago, according to Sue Ann Baird, a member of the McClain Centennial Committee.
All the while cutting was being done, the chalky water runoff from the machines gave way to a muddy red concoction, evidence of the blades cutting into brick deep in the wall. And while there was an air of excitement among everyone gathered, there seemed to be a sort of sadness, too, and as the water from the cutting ran down the stone face, it was as if the building itself wept as the stone holding the time capsule was released after more than a century of entombment.
After its removal, the time capsule was placed into a protective cardboard box. Greenfield Exempted Village School District Superintendent Joe Wills said later that due to the fragility of the contents inside, which appeared to include newspapers and church bulletins, restoring the items will be explored.
Wills said that the box and its contents will be on display in a case on the first floor of the high school during the weekend activities of the centennial celebration, set to begin Friday evening with registration for the weekend activities as well as a meet and greet in the cafetorium from 5 to 7:30 p.m.
Activities to celebrate McClain are planned for the whole of the weekend and include a 5K run/walk, tours of the high school, continuous video featuring McClain and Greenfield, a centennial tea, an alumni dinner, and a rededication ceremony.
The rededication ceremony is slated to begin at 2 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 6 in the auditorium. Overflow seating will be provided in the old gym with wide-screen televisions provided.
According to Baird, speakers for the rededication ceremony will include U.S. Rep. Brad Wenstrup, McClain graduate and Ohio Department of Agriculture Director David Daniels, former Greenfield schools superintendents Sue Frizzell Zint and Terry Fouch, and school board president Greg Barr. The ceremony is to be followed by an ice cream social in the courtyard.
For more information and a full schedule of the activities planned to celebrate McClain High School’s 100 years, go to mcclain100.org.
Wills said that there are plans to put another time capsule into the recess of the cornerstone before resealing it. Right now, he said, the administration is gathering items and ideas from students, alumni, staff, and community members for what will be included in that box to be discovered by future generations.
Reach Angela Shepherd at 937-393-3456, ext. 1681, or on Twitter @wordyshepherd.