A few envelops, an old newspaper, some parish pamphlets, a handful of prayer cards, a few medallions … and a flood of memories.
That's what was found in a time capsule that had been sealed in the corner of Somerville's Saint Polycarp School in 1951 and was opened Monday, almost 62 years later, by a group of former students.
The former students gathered Monday afternoon in the still existing Saint Polycarp Church building, in Winter Hill, which serves a Haitian congregation now, having closed as a Roman Catholic parish in 2002.
It took some effort to open the time capsule, a hefty metal box lodged into a heavy stone block. The block, which had the year 1950 carved into it, had been placed in the corner of the former Saint Polycarp School when it was built.
The opening of the time capsule coincided with the advent of a new building at the site.
As part of the time capsule ceremony, there was also a groundbreaking ceremony for Phase III of Saint Polycarp Village, the final phase of a $30 million affordable housing project being built by the Somerville Community Corporation.
The affordable housing organization purchased the property in 2006 after the Archdiocese of Boston sold off some of its land. Phase I of the project opened in 2009, and when Phase III is complete, Saint Polycarp Village will consist of 84 affordable rental units.
According to Meridith Levy, deputy director of the Somerville Community Corporation, former Saint Polycarp students contacted the organization two and a half years ago when they learned the affordable housing project would lead to the demolition of their former school. They told the builders about the time capsule.
The capsule was filled with slips of paper containing the names of students who were in the first, second and third grade at the time the capsule was created.
Although the contents, on their own, weren't inherently valuable in monetary terms—pieces of paper with students' names on them; a yellowed issue of The Pilot, the archdiocese newspaper, from May 12, 1951; parish news pamphlets filled with advertisements for local businesses—they're priceless in terms of connecting the former students.
"I haven't seen these people in a long time," Theresa Finnegan said before the grand reveal.
Levy said, "The students have been hard at work contacting each other" in the last two and a half years.
Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone, who helped pull the time capsule out of its stone resting place, said, "It ties our past with our present and our future."