Faded history: A time capsule with damaged contents is found at the Cincinnati Gardens demo site

Redevelopment on track after May 2018 completion

CINCINNATI -- Demolition crews at the Cincinnati Gardens got a small surprise while working at the Bond Hill site.

They unearthed a roughly 60-year-old time capsule in the cornerstone of the former arena, said Melissa Johnson, vice president for industrial development for the Greater Cincinnati Redevelopment Authority. 

Johnson said they were unaware the capsule existed, and its contents are poorly preserved.

"It wasn't sealed correctly. When we got the capsule out, part of the lid was open, so moisture had gotten inside," Johnson said. "It's all very fragile."

The Cincinnati Gardens -- a former sports and entertainment venue -- was built in 1949, but many of the items in the capsule date from the 1950s, including a ticket stub and program for a "Punch for Polio" boxing event held Thursday, Jan. 2, 1952, sponsored by the Hyde Park Sportmen's Club. 

The rectangular metal box also contains a hockey puck -- the first event held at the venue was a hockey exhibition -- a deck of playing cards, a newspaper clipping from 1958, part of a $5 bill, a religious pendant, and what appears to be a city-issued resolution recognizing the Gardens. 

The paper is worn and crumbled, but legible words include "wrestling," "carnivals" and "shows." 

The Redevelopment Authority purchased the Gardens, located at 2250 Seymour Ave., in mid-2016. The agency plans to repurpose its 19.5 acres -- which will likely divided into three pad-ready sites -- for advanced manufacturing in hopes of attracting hundreds of new jobs.

Crews started site work at the Gardens on Nov. 30. Demolition and remediation activities will continue through May 2018, Redevelopment Authority officials said. O'Rourke Wrecking is serving as lead contractor for the project.

The "Cincinnati Gardens" letters that hung on the exterior have been removed and donated to the American Sign Museum in Camp Washington. Six bas reliefs, or limestone sculptures that flanked each side of the main entrance, will be donated to a family member of the original artist, the late Henry Mott. They are being hand-removed and temporarily relocated to O'Rourke Wrecking's yard until permanent arrangements can be made

An auction was held for various memorabilia -- a Beatles concert ticket, jerseys and trophies. In December 2016, the Redevelopment Authority also held a public sale of Gardens seats.

But the plan for the capsule and its contents?

"I don’t think we know yet," Johnson said. "Most everything else has found a home. Hopefully this will, too."

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