Central Washington University

Web Exclusive: Was There a Time Capsule Buried in the Old SUB?

A widely circulated story during the recent renovation/reconstruction of Samuelson Hall was the claim a time capsule was buried somewhere inside the structure.

Some insisted the time vault was hidden inside the concrete stairs leading to the Pit (a sunken gathering place inside the building) while others said it was buried in the building’s basement.

Part of what made determining whether a time capsule even existed was the fact there were no records of such a container being placed in the building and a location was not indicated on any map or marked in any way.

“Some of the guys who were here in the old days recalled that a number of years ago, they thought something was put inside of the big concrete stairwell,” noted William Yarwood, CWU’s Director of Real Estate and Capital Planning.

That sentiment was echoed by Cherie Wilson, current Director of the Student Union. Wilson said several former long-time employees of the university remembered hearing a time capsule had been placed somewhere in the building.

“John Horton (former building supervisor) thought it was in the basement. John Drinkwater (former Director of Campus Life) thought it was in the stairs. Otto Bach (current SURC building supervisor) thought it might be in the stairs. It wasn’t marked so nobody knew where it might be,” Wilson said.

Bach said he remembered being told by a professor that it was definitely located somewhere inside the stairs.

“It could have been something pretty small and there was a lot of concrete in those stairs,” Bach added. “There could also have been one (in the stairs) and another (in the basement). That building was added on to so many times.

The original Samuelson Hall was constructed in 1926 and remodeled and enlarged several times over the years. It served as the student union building (and generally known as the SUB) until 2006, when it was closed for safety reasons. The building was named in honor of Emil Samuelson, who taught at Central from 1932-1968.

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Yarwood said that despite extensive efforts on the part of both Facilities Management and the building contractor’s staff to locate the time capsule, nothing was ever uncovered.

“There was nothing we could find that documented the time capsule for that building, which was weird because there usually is. There is usually a plaque or something to mark the location,” he continued. “We had a good idea where we thought it was and the contractor looked around inside there but we never found anything.”

In the end, the search was called off and the contractor went ahead with demolishing the portion of the building where the capsule was thought to have been placed.

Today, the site is the home of the new Samuelson Hall, a state-of-the-art facility, which opened in 2018, that is home to the Departments of Computer Science, Mathematics, Information Technology and Management, and Sociology as well as Information Technology Services and Multimodal Learning and Education.


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