Time capsule from Salt Lake Temple opened 128 years later

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SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 News) – As part of the extensive restoration the Salt Lake Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ is undergoing, a 128-year-old time capsule was recently removed from the base of the angel Moroni statue atop the temple.

The capstone from the base of the statue was recently opened and members of the church’s First Presidency joined a small group to witness the opening of the capsule.

The angel Moroni and capstone being removed by a large crane with artisan journeyman viewing in the background as part of the ongoing renovation of the Salt Lake Temple, May 18, 2020.
Courtesy: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

The capsule was originally placed on top of the temple along with the statue of the angel Moroni on April 6, 1892. Over 30,000 people gathered that day along with thousands of others looking on from nearby trees and rooftops. However, the day that the capsule was reopened in 2020 was much different with just a small group being able to witness it because of COVID-19 restrictions.

While church leaders and historians knew that the capstone’s items wouldn’t be in good condition due to the capstone not being insulated from the weather, church leaders still wanted to be at the opening to ‘to pay tribute to the leaders and courageous pioneer craftsman who against all odds built this magnificent temple.

Emiline Twitchell, a conservator at the Church History Library, shows contents from the capstone of the Salt Lake Temple to the First Presidency on May 20, 2020.
Courtesy: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Materials in the capstone such as a copper plate, coins and medallion are in good condition. The cooper plate is inscribed with the names of the Church General Authorities at the time in 1892. Many of the coins found by church historians have had names engraved into them revealing more about the day that the capstone was placed 128 years ago.

Twelve books were also found including a Book of Mormon and a copy of the Holy Bible. Photos were also found in the capsule but were decayed. However, a newspaper report from the time says that the contained photographs were of Joseph and Hyrum Smith, Brigham Young, John Taylor and other early church leaders.

These items are from within the capstone of the Salt Lake Temple. In the foreground, middle, is a copper plate inscribed with the names of the Church General Authorities present for the laying of the temple cornerstone on April 6, 1853, as well as the names of Church General Authorities present at the laying of the capstone on the same date 39 years later.
Courtesy: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

The Church History Department staff is now cataloging each of the items found in the capsule. The contents may also be put on public display at some point although it is still uncertain due to the item’s fragility.

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