A glimpse into the past
When construction crews demolished the bricks of the cornerstone surrounding the old Methodist Hospital at 36th and Cuming Streets in Omaha this summer, they had no idea what lay inside: a time capsule loaded with historic treasures.
“Demolition of the building was probably about three-quarters of the way done when the construction crew said they found something they wanted to show me,” said Maj. Lee Ann Thompson, a divisional leader for the Salvation Army Western Division located in Omaha. “They were giddy like it was the last day of school.”
When the building was erected in 1906, hospital leaders placed memorabilia inside a small copper box to be discovered and explored by future generations. The items inside included photographs, letters, books, newspapers and surgical instruments. There was even a Methodist songbook and bible.
"It’s amazing how great of a condition all these artifacts and papers are in."
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A delicate little box
“Demolishing the building was a monumental task that took many weeks with large pieces of machinery,” said Maj. Thompson. “That they found this delicate little box is kind of a miracle. They took out the stone and found this bright, shiny copper box inside.”
“I want to thank the Salvation Army for bringing this back to us,” said Josie Abboud, RN, BSN, MBA, FACHE, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Methodist Hospital. “It just gives you chills to think of that day in 1906 when our predecessors laid this in the ground. It’s amazing how great of a condition all these artifacts and papers are in.”
The original hospital building where the time capsule was buried was demolished by the Salvation Army – who purchased the building from Methodist in 1990 for $1 – to make way for their new Renaissance Village Campus. The Salvation Army plans to name a building on their campus “Heritage Place,” to honor the legacy of compassion and caring that has taken place on the site since Methodist first started caring for people of the community in 1891.
Compassion, caring, and recovery
“We want to call it Heritage Place because on that hill is a heritage of caring and compassion and healing that started with Methodist,” said Maj. Greg Thompson, also a divisional leader for the Salvation Army Western Division located in Omaha. “Now we’re carrying that on as well with caring, compassion and emotional and spiritual recovery.”
The time capsule unveiling was attended by Salvation Army leaders as well as leaders from Methodist Health System and doctors who once worked in the old Methodist Hospital building. Everyone in attendance marveled at the condition of the historic artifacts found inside.
“I’m amazed those papers are that flexible,” said Dr. William Shiffermiller, Methodist Hospital Vice President of Medical Affairs and physician whose father practiced at 36th and Cuming.
“I just marvel at this beautiful, handwritten manuscript,” said Abboud. “I’m almost afraid to touch it.”
A glimpse into the future
Methodist will now work to preserve the historic treasures and decide which items from the capsule will be reburied with other items when a new time capsule is installed at the Salvation Army’s new building site.
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