Temple Mayor Rick Ford spoke briefly to the crowd in front of what has stood for decades as the Sewell Plant, and what will soon transform into Temple City Hall. Afterward, city workers took chisels to two marble slabs bearing the words, “For God and Country, 1953” and “In Appreciation of the City of Temple, 1953.”
Behind the slabs were a partially deteriorated manila folder that was placed in the building at its original dedication ceremony. Inside the folder was a panorama of city leaders and workers taken when the building was finished, a clothing catalog and a bank statement from the city.
The bank statement showed a balance of more than $4 million, a lot of money today but an especially large amount in the 1950s. Ford decided not to open the clothing catalog due to its crumbling condition. Unfortunately, the documents were in poor shape from the years of wear.
A new time capsule will be placed in the building when city hall is finished.
“With all due respect, we’ll try to do a better job of encasing our time capsule this time,” he said.
Among the crowd were a number of relatives of Temple’s elected officials from 1953.
The plant was for years one of the primary job sources for the city. The time capsule was discovered when town historian Ruth Holder looked over an itinerary from the building’s original dedication.
Ford said he isn’t sure yet what will be placed in the new time capsule.
“I’m not sure if we’ll do anything electronic, but we’ll put some things in there,” Ford had previously said. “We haven’t gotten that far with it, but maybe we can include a bank statement from the present day or something of that nature. Maybe a list of city officials and city employees and some pictures, current events in the city of Temple.”
A plan has been in the works for years to partially demolish the building to create the new city hall. The 27,000-square-foot Sewell was purchased by the city in 2007. The transition into a new government building will cost an estimated $1.5 million and be paid for with 2008 SPLOST funds. The project will also see the size of the building reduced by about half.
The old Sewell plant is located at 261 W. Johnson St. in downtown Temple.