February 21, 2006

University unearths 1915 time capsule at site of West Quad

Capsule contains documents pertaining to founding of Mt. Sinai Hospital and, newspapers

time capsule
Case Western Reserve University President Edward M. Hundert (left) presents to Bennett Yanowitz, chairman of the board of directors for the Mt. Sinai Health Care Foundation, a time capsule found on the site of the former Mt. Sinai Medical Center. A demolition crew found the capsule dating back to June 6, 1915, when the hospital's founders placed it in the cornerstone of the original building. The campus is now Case's West Quad, where, Yanowitz said, future research and education will continue the Mt. Sinai tradition. "We're very proud of the partnership," he said, referring to the foundation's work with Case.

The construction under way on Case's West Quad holds promise for the future of the university and the city, but it has also yielded valuable information about Cleveland's past.

Early in February a crew demolishing the South Hospital Building of the former Mt. Sinai Medical Center—the site of the West Quad—uncovered a time capsule, planted there on June 6, 1915 by the founders of Mt. Sinai. They immediately turned the box over to the University.

Ken Basch, vice president of campus planning and operations, said the capsule contains a variety of documents, including meeting minutes, Mt. Sinai's articles of incorporation, and the original construction contract, as well as newspaper articles from the Jewish Independent, the Plain Dealer, and the now-defunct Cleveland News and Cleveland Press.

The capsule also contains items of interest to the Jewish community, such as a list of subscribers to The Federation of Jewish Charities of 1914, a pledge card to the Jewish Hospital Association, and fund-raising campaign materials.

"Finding this time capsule was a wonderful surprise," said Case President Edward M. Hundert, M.D. "The documents contained in it will undoubtedly be of great value to researchers studying the beginnings of the hospital and Cleveland's Jewish community in the early years of the 20th century."

Steven Varelmann, the university's director of architectural services, said he had alerted the demolition crew to be on the lookout for a time capsule. "I noticed a cornerstone on the south building (also called the main hospital building), and many times cornerstones have a cavity for a time capsule," he explained.

Rick Pruden, project manager in construction administration, said that despite some damage to the capsule when it was excavated, the documents inside are remarkably well-preserved. "The newspapers could almost be put on a newsstand today, that's how good condition they are in," he said. The copy of the Plain Dealer contained an easily readable Cleveland Indians box score, he added.

The university turned (will turn) the time capsule over to the Mt. Sinai Health Care Foundation on February 21 "We're very eager to get a look at the contents," said Mitchell Balk, president of the foundation. "We've already had requests from some of the senior Mt. Sinai physicians to study them. We want to better understand the rationale for opening a Jewish hospital in those years."

Balk added that the foundation has not yet decided on a final repository for the documents. The Western Reserve Historical Society and the new Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage in Beachwood are both possible sites, he said.

For more information: Jeff Bendix 216-368-6070.

Posted by: Heidi Cool, February 21, 2006 09:54 AM | News Topics: General, HeadlinesMain

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