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Solving The Mystery Of Charlotte's 2014 Time Capsule

A website mentioned a hidden letter, written by Charlotte's mayor 50 years ago, meant to be opened in this year. After a few minutes, we found it. But we can't read his note just yet.


  1. Have you seen Back To The Future? You have? Great. This will be simple.
  2. Remember when Marty, in 1955, writes a letter to Doc Brown, and tells him not to open it until 1985? That's basically what's happened here in Charlotte, although you've got to replace Marty with former mayor Stan Brookshire, replace Doc with current mayor Patrick Cannon, and change the dates a little bit. Last week, Gizmodo came out with a list of the most exciting time capsules being opened this year. Charlotte's on the list:
  3. The blurb says the capsule is hidden in an "Unnamed movie theater or former movie theater in Charlotte," and cites a Statesville Record and Landmark story from May 13, 1964. I found it here:
  4. In the letter, Brookshire mentions progress in civil rights, and predicts a population of a million people (Charlotte's population in 2012 was 775,202, says the U.S. Census). posted a story Tuesday morning, which piqued people's interest locally. 
  5. Oh yes we can, Hive Mind.
  6. And, as this plaque shows, the time capsule really hasn't been hiding at all:
  7. As for what else the letter may say, and what else may be in the capsule, a 1964 Boxoffice Magazine story written about the opening of "the South's most luxurious theatre" doesn't provide any clues, nor does it mention the capsule at all:
  8. But wait. A comment made on a cinema message board shows someone knows what's inside, and has been keeping that secret for 50 years. The commenter, who goes by Crawfernardo, says he'll keep quiet for a little longer:

    My brother and I grew up in that neighborhood and went there often. We were at the ceremony buring the time capsule. We still remember most of the items inside. We still live in Charlotte and plan to make it to the capsule opening. Time flys [sic].

    Karen Putnam, a manager at the Park Terrace Theatre, says she's planning an event for the opening of the time capsule on May 11, although she hasn't worked out the details just yet.
  9. NOTE: It bears mentioning that time capsules have an imperfect record of standing up to the ravages of time. One that was buried in 1959 at the now-flattened Charlottetown Mall in front of 50,000 people was unearthed 25 years later in front of a scant crowd of 300. The capsule itself was a child's coffin (creepy), and wasn't sealed correctly. Moisture made its contents hard to read, as local author David Aaron Moore describes:
  10. A followup capsule, to be opened in 2009, was dug up when the site was bulldozed to make way for what's now The Metropolitan, and is currently sitting in an office, unable to be pried open.

    Let's hope this opening goes a little better.

    UPDATE: A 1964 Charlotte News story shows Mayor Brookshire throwing the letter into the capsule, and mentions a few more predictions, namely that Charlotte will have an outerbelt. It also says other items in the capsule include pictures of Charlotte's most well-dressed men and women.