While dismantling the pedestal that once held a Jefferson Davis statue in Richmond, Virginia, workers on Wednesday discovered a box encased in stone, the city said.
“Until we see what’s inside, it’s just a box, but most historians believe it is a time capsule,” James Nolan, the mayor’s press secretary wrote to CNN on Friday.
Protesters tore down and vandalized the statue of the president of the Confederacy in June 2020, but the pedestal remained. Many statues of Confederate leaders came down that summer in cities across the US as widespread protests denounced racism and oppression.
Richmond began removing and transporting the pedestals that formerly held Confederate monuments on February 1, according to a city news release.
The box is being stored in a secure location by the city until the Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia figures out what to do with it, Nolan said.
The Richmond City Council passed a resolution on January 24 to transfer ownership of all Confederate monuments, pedestals and related artifacts to the Black History Museum. The museum is partnering with the Valentine, another museum, to determine what to do with these objects.
CNN reached out to the Black History Museum about the plans for the box and has not heard back.
“Our institution takes very seriously the responsibility to manage these objects in ways that ensure their origins and purpose are never forgotten: that is the glorification of those who led the fight to enslave African Americans and destroy the Union,” Marland Buckner, interim executive director of the Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia, said in a city news release from December 30.
“We hope this process will elevate public dialog about our shared history and in so doing encourage and invite more citizens into fact-based, respectful conversations about the profound challenges we face as a nation,” he said.
Other monuments entrusted to the museums include those of Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, J.E.B. Stuart and more, according to the news release.
This isn’t the first box to be discovered beneath a Confederate monument in Richmond. In December, two time capsules were found buried under the pedestal of the Robert E. Lee statue. Lee was a Confederate general.
The first time capsule included an 1875 almanac, two old books, a coin and a cloth envelope, which historians believe was buried in 1887.
A week later, a Bible with a coin stuck to it and an 1865 edition of Harper’s Weekly magazine with an image of a figure weeping over President Abraham Lincoln’s grave were found in the second time capsule.