Oh Mr. Lion, What Have You Been Hiding?

Yes this lion is very sneaky. Recently the lion and unicorn on the Old State House roof were removed to be restored. It was rumored that there was a time capsule hidden in the head of the lion placed there in 1901 when it was last restored. The opening of the lion's head and time capsule took place at the studio where the restoration is to take place.

With all the media hype the press was there in force at the opening. The lion's crown was removed and viola, there was a copper box inside! The box was welded shut and fastened to the inside of the lion. When it was removed and cut opened it was deemed the box was packed to tightly to remove the contents immediately. Another week would pass before the contents of the box were properly removed by and archivist and displayed.

old state house, boston, massachusetts, 1900, lion, unicorn, time capsule
Old State House circa 1900
Photo: Boston Public Library - Flickr
The lion and unicorn are heraldic supporters appearing in the full Royal coat of arms of the United Kingdom. The lion stands for England and the unicorn for Scotland. The combination dates back to the 1603 accession of James I of England who was already James VI of Scotland. By extension, they have also been used in the Coat of Arms of Canada since 1921.

The originals, made of wood, symbols of British rule, were torn down and burned during the passion of the American Revolution in 1776. In 1882. When the building was restored to its original colonial appearance, replacements were carved and installed. During another period of restoration, those two rotting wood figures were removed and a Boston coppersmith, Movses H. Gulesian, was commissioned in 1900 to replace the wooden Lion and Unicorn with copper ones. It was Gulesian himself that installed the copper time capsule inside the new copper lion.

lion, old state house, 2014, street level

Have a look of the contents of the time capsule in this short video.


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