A Seattle architectural salvage company assigned to remove as much historic architecture from a former German evangelical church in Queen Anne prior to its demolition this summer found an unexpected discovery: a small time capsule from 1906, the year the church was built.
Aaron Blanchard, Earthwise Arcitectural Salvage director of operations, said staff was hired to perform a salvage assessment, going through the old church at 165 Valley St., which has since been demolished, looking for as many materials and items that could be salvaged and sold.
“We try to find and save as many things that we can sell,” Blanchard said, adding his company usually salvages items from old residences but has been doing more vacant churches, like the one in Queen Anne.
The goal, he said, is to keep as many things out of land fills as possible.
“The owner of the company calls it CSI of the building. We just nerd out,” Blanchard said.
Blanchard said, toward the end of the two-week salvage, his crew was digging around some blackberry bushes and found the cornerstone of the church, which they were excited about, not only because cornerstones are rarely left behind, but because sometimes they hid things like time capsules.
“We just knew that if it’s an old church, and there’s a cornerstone, there’s frequently a time capsule behind it,” Blanchard said.
He said this was the first time his crew has found a time capsule or found and removed a cornerstone from a church.
“We knew we were the last hope for this to get salvaged,” Blanchard said.
According to information provided by Earthwise Architectural Salvage on the history of the church, the Evangelical United Brethren Church bought the site of the former church for $3,500 at the turn of the 19th century because it was outgrowing its space near where the Seattle Center is now.
According to information from Earthwise, the Evangelical Auditorium was built for $17,000 in 1906.
The church, which Blanchard estimated was approximately 4,500 square feet, was designed to seat 600 and featured services in both German and English and placed an emphasis on bringing youth into the church.
Its first pastors were T.R. Hornschuch, who gave sermons in English, and F. Benz, whose sermons were in German.
The now-demolished building had actually not been a church for some time, Blanchard said.
The building was last used for counseling services in 1970, and the last owners of the building likely didn’t know about the cornerstone or the time capsule, which was why it had never been opened. The building was torn down over the summer to make way for affordable housing.
Blanchard said, while the cornerstone and time capsule were a surprise, the contents were not, comprising of documents and other things from that time.
That does not mean they weren’t excited, however.
“We were giddy,” Blanchard said. “We were like little kids getting excited.”
The time capsule actually comprised of a copper box, which, according to information from Earthwise, is ideal for time capsules because it does not rust.
When the Earthwise crew opened the box, they found:
The Evangelical Messenger, a newspaper publication dated Nov. 21, 1906;
Der Christliche Kinderfreund, a children’s newspaper dated Sept. 30, 1906;
The Missionary Messenger, a periodical that was by the Woman’s Foreign Missionary Society;
A Sunday School Quarterly Book, written in German and featuring songs, Bible topics, advice sections and more;
The Evangelical Herald, published Nov. 1, 1906;
The Evangelical Magazine, printed in German, January 1906;
The Christian Messenger, printed December 1906, written in German;
The Oregon Conference Evangelical Association minutes from 1906;
A book of German evangelical hymns;
An English Bible from 1898 with old and new testaments translated out of “original tongues;
A ledger of donations for the church, which listed the names of people who donated to the church’s building, $205 total, or approximately $6,000 today;
A copy of the Evangelical Doctrine, written in German;
A letter about money received and location prospects of the church.
The time capsule and other items from the old church are on display for the public to see from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. seven days a week at Earthwise, 3447 Fourth Ave. S., through Sept. 12.
Blanchard said, ideally, after the display is taken down, he would like to donate the time capsule and its contents because, although the items are not valuable monetarily, they may be of interest to a museum or another organization.