Newspapers nearly a century old filled the time capsule stashed behind the cornerstone of the soon-to-be-razed downtown YMCA.
About two dozen community leaders, many of them lifelong YMCA members, watched intently Friday as a time capsule buried behind the cornerstone at the soon-to-be-demolished downtown Y was pried open.
John Eslich, president of J. Eslich Construction and Equipment, pointed out that the cornerstone was made of sandstone, bore no dates and, appearing insignificant, would likely be discarded.
But behind it was a “capsule” in the form of a tin box.
The tin box contained a copper box, sealed since 1916 when the building was constructed.
Inside it, the men found their treasure in print: Newspapers containing nearly century-old accounts of the community’s efforts to raise money and build the Young Men’s Christian Association, the brick, nine-story, 100,000-square foot tower housed at 405 Second St. NW.
The facility is being demolished so that a new Y can be erected. It will be named in honor of former McKinley High School basketball star and longtime NBA player, Eric Snow, who honed his basketball skills at the original Y as a child.
The old Y closed in 2008 with operating expenses exceeding revenue by about $200,000 a year.
It is in such poor shape, it must be demolished.
“This building has been so much to the young people of this community, teaching ‘body, mind and spirit’ to so many of our young people,” Stark County Common Pleas Judge Lee Sinclair said before the time capsule was opened,
GROWING UP HEALTHY
“I grew up in this building,” Sinclair said.
It’s where he learned to swim, played basketball, practiced martial arts, lifted weights and played as a drummer in a rock n roll band.
He also recalled “the apple machine.” Sinclair explained that it was a machine in the men’s locker room where, for a nickel, you could get “the coldest, crispest apples to eat on the way home from the Y.”
Bill Cumler, who oversaw the Y from 1956 through 1989, also spoke to the small crowd, saying he hopes the founders would be remembered and noting that the YMCA has been in Canton since 1866.
Jeff Mann, executive director of the Meyers Lake YMCA, noted that some of the descendants of those responsible for the Y’s success were on hand Friday.
“A lot of the leaders in our community today, their families supported the YMCA way back then,” he said. “That’s so cool. They’re doing the same thing (as their ancestors): helping kids.”
Bill Luntz — born in 1924 and lifelong Y member — recalled how his father, Abe M. Luntz, who ran Luntz Iron and Steel Co., was a member for 65 years, but made sure Bill was a member, too. His father also was involved in the construction of the building.
Page 2 of 2 - OPENING UP HISTORY
Pry bar in hand, Matt Eslich of the construction company pulled the cornerstone away, revealing the time capsule.
Tim Shetzer, chief executive officer of the YMCA of Central Stark County, said officials learned of the time capsule after seeing a Repository article by Gary Brown. The article included a photograph of a cornerstone ceremony featuring masons wearing “top hats and tails.” The masons were installing the cornerstone on the southeastern corner of the building.
Shetzer and John Eslich opened the angular box, which measured about 8 inches deep and about 2 feet long.
Eslich used side-cut pliers to cut the tin and peel it back.
After he and Shetzer removed the copper capsule, Eslich used a cordless saw to cut each end from the capsule, revealing the folded newspapers.
The copper box had been soldered perfectly, Eslich said. “No water, no moisture got inside. This was the best time capsule we’ve taken out. It’s in perfect condition.”
Editions of the city Evening Repository and the Canton Daily News carried details about the fundraising events that enabled construction of the Y. It was back when men’s suits were advertised to cost $15 and when, on May 16, 1914, the Evening Repository reported that the YMCA fundraising campaign ended with $200,000 having been raised. The capsule also contained a 1914 list of contributors to the YMCA.
“I thought there would be some other artifacts, yet the newspapers tell the story of what was going on in those days,” Cumler said.
Shetzer, who had talked to the Canton Museum officials to determine how to address any discoveries inside the capsule, had hoped to contact them about preserving the newspapers.