108-year-old time capsule opened in Wilmington, revealing the history inside

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — A history lesson over a century in the making was held this afternoon at the former Pearsall Memorial Presbyterian Church on Market Street.

The building was bought by PBC Design Build in 2019. But former church members didn’t let the new owners forget about a time capsule placed in the structure’s foundation in 1913.

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“One thing that kept coming up over and over again was kind of this myth that there was a time capsule that we needed to make sure we found,” PBC Design Build founder Dave Spetrino said.

Spetrino says they uncovered the capsule earlier this month, but waited until today to open it.

“We’ve resisted the temptation to take a peek,” Spetrino added. “We’re going to sit tight until some of the parishioners are able to make it over during our open house. We’ll let them kind of go through and see what they find. Hopefully it’ll be a good adventure.”

One of those parishioners is Ken O’Quinn, who first attended the church 70 years ago when he was 12 years old.

O’Quinn says he’s seen time capsules before, but never in person.

“I haven’t heard of them around Wilmington, but I knew about them,” O’Quinn said. “Like I said, until I found out that we had this one, I never expected to be a party to one being opened.”

The capsule contained newspapers from the early 20th century and several handwritten letters.

O’Quinn says finally seeing what the box held was great, but the fact that it brought together former members after a long time apart was even greater.

“I was kind of excited to see what was in it,” O’Quinn continued. “Of course the congregation, not a lot of them left. But several of them are here today. And that was one of the reasons, to see what came out of that.”