ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Rochester’s original Frederick Douglass statue has stood in Highland Park for nearly 80 years, and now its getting a more prominent showcase near South Avenue and Robinson Drive.
When the statue was being moved a time capsule was discovered underneath.
Rochester historian Christine Ridarsky and a Monroe County historian are working to bring in a conservator to determine contents found in the time capsule underneath the base of the Frederick Douglass statue at the Highland Bowl.
Contents of the time capsule were waterlogged — they appeared to be paper, and possibly books, but when the state was originally dedicated in 1899, newspaper accounts indicated the time capsule contained two leaflets furnished by Susan B. Anthony, and a copy of the Declaration of Sentiments.
Other documents, according to 1899 newspaper accounts, include a copy of the book Slavery Unmasked (published in 1856), a letter donating $1,000 statue committee by the government of Haiti, notes of African-American clubs, women’s clubs, and more.
The statue, dedicated in 1899 by then New York Gov. Teddy Roosevelt, was the first statue in the U.S. to memorialize an African American citizen. It was originally placed outside the Central Train Station in downtown Rochester, then moved to Highland Park in 1941.
“They’re excited about it. They’re very, very excited about it! It’s kind of like buried treasure for an historian,” said Larry Staub, Monroe County Parks Director.
It’s not yet known whether the original contents of the time capsule were moved with it, but the search for found treasure is on!