Old Odd Fellows Home yields time capsule

Ins.Worc.-Oct.-2014 4

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RANDOLPH RD.—Deb Packard of Preservation Worcester might not have exactly been clapping her hands in celebration, given the organization’s unsuccessful fight to save the former Odd Fellows Home, but that does not diminish the significance of what was unearthed during demolition of the sprawling structure to make way for “a revolutionary Alzheimer’s and dementia residential care facility for the elderly in Central Massachusetts” being developed by the owners of Dodge Park Rest Home.

Groundbreaking for “The Oasis at Dodge Park,” as the new housing complex, di-rectly opposite Dodge Park’s own historic premises, will be called, is scheduled for the morning of October 15th with State Sen. Harriette Chandler, State Sen. Michael Moore, Dr. Catherine DeBeau who is chief of geriatrics at UMass Memorial, Dr. Gary Moak who is medical director of the Moak Center for Healthy Aging and District 2 City Councilor Philip P. Palmieri scheduled to speak. Hank Stolz of Charter TV3 and WCRN 630 AM will serve as MC.

In biting the dust, the former Odd Fellows Home surrendered a treasure. Lodged in the cornerstone on the northwest side of the building was a more than century-old time capsule. Its contents were well-preserved.

“We told the contractor (Whipple) to be gentle when they lifted it up,” Micha Shalev, a co-owner of Dodge Park Rest Home, said in describing the copper box that was discovered encased in granite.

Mr. Shalev had an inkling that something of the sort might be found. It had apparently been placed on-site during a dedication ceremony on October 8th, 1890.

“It took them an hour and a half to get it out,” Mr. Shalev said. “It was really heavy, with filler paper on top.”

“It was held in [the granite chamber] by two spikes, some shims and mortar,” Jeff Catino, Dodge Park Rest Home’s maintenance director, said.

The contents of the box were in remarkably good condition, when the top was removed to reveal them. Inside was a gold mine of artifacts: a “National Songs of America” book; a “City of Worcester 1886” by Sanford & Davis book; a “History of Worcester” book; a City of Worcester directory; a Holy Bible; a copy of the “Proceedings of the Grand Encampment” (of Odd Fellows); a map and business guide of Worcester; newspapers (the Boston Herald, the Hudson Enterprise, the Boston Globe, the Worcester Daily Telegram, the Worcester Daily Spy, the Lowell Morning Times); a souvenir of “Ye Old South Meeting House;” Worcester Academy’s annual catalogue from 1890; and a WPI brochure from the same year.

A quandary over what to do with the collection prompted Mr. Shalev to reach out first to the Worcester Art Museum and then to Wil-liam Wallace at the Worcester Historical Museum.

Meanwhile, Mr. Shalev intends to honor the spirit of those Odd Fellows who placed the time capsule by doing the same, as The Oa-sis at Dodge Park is being built. “I’ll include something about Obamacare,” he said. “I’m serious. And we will put in a CD because one hundred years from now there won’t be any.”

How about an artist’s rendering of “CitySquare:” the project that has defied the odds?