Forgotten Time Capsule Brings Back Memories


Thanks to alumnus Charles Tharp, attendees were able to take a step back in history when a time capsule enclosed in the 1954 Science Hall cornerstone was opened during a ceremony on campus May 5.

Tharp, who had owned a local landfill, grabbed the cornerstone when portions of the Science Hall building, now known as Magruder Hall, were demolished to make room for renovations and additional construction in the early 2000s. It sat in his yard for the last decade and this past spring when he was cleaning vines from the stone he noticed the weather had eroded some mortar from the back, revealing the time capsule. Tharp, contacted his friend and former professor, Dr. Max Bell, who had been on campus when the Aug. 5, 1954 Cornerstone dedication took place. Bell, a professor emeritus of botany who divides his time between Florida, Kirksville and Alaska, agreed to help Tharp with the opening of the time capsule.

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Charles Tharp reveals a school newspaper from the 1954 Science Hall time capsule, which was opened May 5. Pictured, from left to right: University President Troy Paino, Jon Broyles of the Freemasons, Professor Emeritus Max Bell, Tharp and President Emeritus Jack Magruder.

Also assisting with the reveal was Dr. Jack Magruder, president emeritus of Truman. Magruder was a sophomore chemistry major at the time of the 1954 dedication. As the cornerstone was originally dedicated by the Freemasons of the Grand Lodge of Missouri, Jon Broyles, grand master of the Grand Lodge of Ancient, Free and Accepted Masons of the State of Missouri, spoke about the history of the Masons and their role in building construction.

Buried in the time capsule were copies of the school newspaper, course schedules, student handbooks, alumni magazines and a copy of the Aug. 5, 1954 dedication speech delivered by Phil Donnelly, Missouri’s governor at the time.

Thanks to Tharp’s willingness to donate the cornerstone and the time capsule back to the University, the contents are available for review in the special collections gallery located on the third floor of Pickler Memorial Library. The cornerstone will be placed close to its original location on the north side of Magruder Hall. Photos from the unveiling can be found here.
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