History unearthed

University of Missouri officials open time capsule discovered this summer in stone base of Parker Hall.

Nov. 10, 2022
Contact: Sara Diedrich, 573-882-3243,

Drew Walters was snapping pictures of the demolition of Parker Hall on the University of Missouri campus this summer, when the work crew alerted him to a small shoe-box-sized container embedded in the stone base of the building. Intrigued, the MU sophomore majoring in digital storytelling, notified campus facilities.

Turns out, while documenting history, Walters also discovered a bit of MU history – a time capsule buried in 1899 when Parker Hall was first built as Parker Memorial Hospital. On Oct. 11, 2022, Walters joined MU President Mun Choi and Richard J. Barohn for the unsealing of the time capsule, which contained a treasure trove of memorabilia.

Excitement grew as people gathered in the Jesse Hall Rotunda to watch the opening. Onlookers strained to see as Walters pried open the box to reveal its insides. Wearing protective gloves to preserve the contents, they carefully lifted each item out of the box. Despite the long length of time that it was buried, the contents of the capsule were well preserved.

A list of 19 items transcribed from the Columbia Missouri Statesman from December 22, 1899, helped university archivists identify the contents of the container. Archivists Gary Cox and Anselm Huelsbergen helped unseal the capsule safely and aided with identifying the materials within.

The items, found in all different conditions, included a catalogue of the University of Missouri, a biennial report of the board of curators, a copy of the Columbia Missouri Herald, four pictures of the views of the interior and exterior of university buildings, coins from 1899 and a rare issue of the Columbia Daily Hornet. An original photograph of William L. Parker, the Columbia businessman, Civil War veteran and donor that Parker Hall was originally named after, was recovered as well.

“This gives us a way to recall the building since it’s gone now. It exhibits the huge value of a medical hospital for the community at the turn of the century,” Huelsbergen said. “The items that we found show us the relationships between the citizens and the hospital, as well as the donors to the university and even to the state as a whole. I think that there’s a lot of touchstones in the fact that this capsule still exists, even though the building is now gone. We are now able to preserve this part of our history.”

The capsule’s next movements will be determined by the MU School of Medicine and Campus Facilities.

Story written by Erin O’Connell

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