Uncovering history: Group tries to open YWCA time capsule

Published 7:00 am Saturday, April 30, 2016

As workers continue to tear apart the old YWCA building in Bogalusa, a dozen city officials, curious residents and descendants of Bogalusa’s first family gathered Friday for what they hoped would be the opening of a time capsule.

Sandy Bloom, the president of the YWCA board, said she first read about the capsule in the cornerstone two years ago, during the celebration of the YWCA’s centenary.  Bloom said she was researching old newspaper articles from around 1916, when she found mention of the YWCA’s construction. According to the article, there was a time capsule placed in the cornerstone.

By 10 a.m. Friday, workers had removed the brickwork covering the cornerstone and then a worker began hammering at the cornerstone with a small sledgehammer. However, the cornerstone proved to be made of marble.

Will Branch, the owner of the salvage company taking apart the old building, secured a small jackhammer but even that did little other than bore several small holes in the stone.

Branch said afterward he’s not through with the project.

“We just didn’t have the right equipment big enough to bust that thing open and get it open,” he said.

Branch explained he does have a large jackhammer, but it is at a different worksite and he doesn’t know when he’ll be able to get it to the Y.

Branch has been salvaging old buildings for years, and said he has seen time capsules secured near cornerstones in the past, so he believes it could be there, somewhere.

“I wouldn’t have been working this hard just for fun, I promise you,” he said.

Branch noted that fire destroyed the original building in 1958. Following the fire, the front of the building was remodeled, so the capsule could have been moved or even opened then.

“They might have opened it up back then, but I don’t know,” he said.

However, Bloom said she’s still hopeful a time capsule is there.

Late Friday, after she returned home, Bloom said that she and a friend uncovered the newspaper story.

“It is from the Nov. 18, 1916, issue of the Bogalusa American,” Bloom said. “It lists the items in the cornerstone. There was a big ceremony surrounding the laying of the cornerstone. We looked at a drawing of the YWCA from before the renovation work that was done in the 50s. It clearly shows the cornerstone in approximately the same location. So the mystery continues.”

Mimi Goodyear Dossett and Mary Goodyear Glenn, both descendants of the Goodyear family, were at the YMCA site Friday, and were hopeful of uncovering a piece of Bogalusa’s past intimately connected with their family’s history.

Two brothers, Frank and Charles Goodyear, founded the Great Southern Lumber Company, and then Bogalusa itself. Frank Goodyear helped found the YWCA and his family and company supported the organization for years.

Neither woman knew what might be in the time capsule. However, Dossett said the capsule and the building itself was an important symbol of civic pride generosity.

“I hope they can get it and open it, and I hope there’s something in it,” Dossett said.