After fire destroyed the original Leonard Hall in April 1952, workers clearing the ruins discovered in the building’s cornerstone a tin box filled with documents, photographs, and publications from 1903, the year the stone was laid.
So as the second Leonard Hall took shape on the site of the original, a similar box was placed in its cornerstone, laid in the summer of 1953.
This past winter, as workers razed Leonard to make way for a new science building, they recovered that time capsule—a thin-sheet copper box replete with a bundle of papers and a distinctive smell from having been sealed away for 65 years.
Now the property of IUP Special Collections and University Archives, the box and its contents are on display in Stapleton Library.
Having read about the time capsule in the program from Leonard Hall’s dedication on May 22, 1954, IUP archivist Harrison Wick was excited to be part of its recovery. On a February morning this year, with temperatures in the teens, workers removed the
cornerstone and chiseled away a concrete layer on top to reveal the metal box.
Leonard Hall time capsule recovery, February 8, 2018
“The copper burned my hands, it was so cold,” Wick said. “It was like handling fire.”
Although there was some moisture from the heating and cooling of the copper over time, the box’s contents—primarily copies of Indiana State Teachers College publications from the early ’50s and issues of the Penn and the Indiana Evening Gazette—had no water damage, Wick said.
In his library display, he featured some of the more unusual items: a leaflet announcing an open house for Whitmyre Hall, which opened in the fall of 1952; a list of Board of Trustees members from the time when ISTC received its $1.17-million allocation for Leonard’s construction; and, most interesting to Wick, three photographs—one of President Willis Pratt and two of the fire-gutted, original Leonard Hall.
“The photographs were unique,” Wick said. “Those were things we didn’t have.”
Symbols to Have Second Life
Last fall, before demolition of Leonard Hall began, eight decorative symbols of learning from the building’s front entrance were removed and placed in storage. The precast concrete symbols are expected to be part of the university’s new science building,
which will occupy the site of Walsh Hall and the former site of Leonard. Construction is expected to begin in 2020.
Rhonda Luckey, IUP vice president for Student Affairs, incorporated the symbols in her own memorial to Leonard Hall and to Jane Leonard, the former dean of women
for whom the building was named. Luckey, who works in a range of visual arts, used her photographs of the learning symbols to create an assemblage, which she gave to IUP President Michael Driscoll as a framed print. Similar prints, as well as notecards, are available through the IUP Co-op Store, with proceeds benefiting student scholarships. “Leonard Hall is dear to us, and Jane
Leonard especially so,” Luckey said. “I thought it was important to capture the symbols in memoriam.”
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