Saturday, May 26, 2018
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Library gets 1930s relics from project’s time capsule

Items will be preserved, displayed


Linnie Willis, executive director of the Lucas Metropolitan Housing Authority, looks at an old newspaper article from a time capsule that was found during the demolition of the Brand Whitlock Homes in Toledo. The copper capsule was found in the summer.

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The typed letters, decades-old documents, and yellowed newspapers found in a time capsule last summer will be preserved and displayed by the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library, officials from the Lucas Metropolitan Housing Authority decided Wednesday.

The capsule was discovered over the summer by workers tearing down Toledo’s oldest public-housing complex. The dented and battered copper box with the Depression-era documents had been in the cornerstone of the Brand Whitlock Homes’ former office building at Division Street and Nebraska Avenue in the central city.

LMHA Board Chairman Bill Brennan said “the library is the logical repository” for the collection.

The library’s manager of Local History and Genealogy, Jill Clever, said the contents of the box will be inventoried and placed in special archival folders to preserve them. The collection will then be available for the public to view. A timeline has not yet been decided.

The capsule’s contents tell the background of how the Brand Whitlock Homes came to be built: a 1934 study of housing in Toledo noting many central-city homes’ poor condition and the high number of tuberculosis cases in the area, one of the few parts of the city where blacks were permitted to live at the time; newspaper clippings about the the New Deal-era program to build the housing; the Public Works Administration’s blueprints for the complex; a program from the Aug. 2, 1936, groundbreaking ceremony; and well-preserved copies of The Toledo Blade and Toledo News-Bee from Aug. 25, 1937, and the Toledo Morning Times from Aug. 26, 1937.

It’s not clear when the time capsule was sealed, although the latest identifiable documents appeared to be from 1937. The Brand Whitlock Homes opened in 1938. The public housing complex was among the nation’s earliest, built by the New Deal-era Public Works Administration to provide affordable housing and employment for out-of-work skilled tradesmen and construction workers.

While the documents in the capsule are relatively well-preserved, Ms. Clever said the library will make sure they stay that way.

“Now that it’s been opened, it could deteriorate very rapidly,” she said.

The former Brand Whitlock site is being completely redeveloped to have fewer units of public housing and more of a mix of income levels.

Construction is nearing completion on the first phase of the new development, Collingwood Green, which will have 65 units of senior housing.

Other time capsules in the library’s collection include one from the Toledo Soldiers’ Memorial, which was torn down in the 1950s, and an unopened time capsule from the 1937 Toledo Centennial Celebration, which cannot be opened until 2037.

Ms. Clever said she was pleased the library could preserve the documents in the capsule and make sure they are available to future researchers and the general public.

“We’re really happy that [the housing authority] thought of us,” she said.

Contact Kate Giammarise at: or 419-724-6091, or on Twitter @KateGiammarise.

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