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'I had chills': Opening of Ewing Manor time capsule stirs emotions
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'I had chills': Opening of Ewing Manor time capsule stirs emotions


BLOOMINGTON — A June 11, 1928, edition of The Daily Pantagraph, an 1890 dollar coin and lots of memories came flowing out when a time capsule was opened Thursday morning at Ewing Manor, 90 years after it was placed there by original manor owners Davis and Hazle Buck Ewing.

Three generations of the Ewing-Buck-Stevenson family from six states were there to witness the event at the former home originally known as Sunset Hill.

“I had chills,” said Sandra Ewing Warner, daughter of Davis and Hazle's son, Nelson, describing how she felt as a letter from the time capsule was read. It outlined her family's history, including her father's adoption.

The typed letter noted that Davis and Hazle were “united in marriage” on Oct. 22, 1907, lived several years at the corner of Mercer Avenue and Olive Street and that plans for their new home at Towanda Avenue and Emerson Street were formed during a yearlong world tour from August 1924 to fall 1925.

Hazle Buck Ewing, who died in 1969, willed the building and grounds to the Illinois State University Foundation.

“I'm excited there was a personal letter in there,” said Toni Tucker, director of the Ewing Cultural Center. “To have that letter made it so personal.”

It took less than 10 minutes for workers from Otto Baum Co. to remove the cornerstone containing a 10-by-4-by-5-inch copper box that served as a time capsule. The crowd of about 75 people, including about two dozen family members, applauded as the box was removed.

Other items in the box included a photograph of the laying of the cornerstone; a printed copy of Bloomington City Council proceedings from May 7, 1928; a June 9, 1928, edition of the Christian Science Monitor; and several coins.

As Tucker removed the coins one by one, she triggered laughter when she asked, “You're waiting for the bar of gold, right?”

But although there was no bar of gold, the contents were golden to many of those present.

“It's exciting for me and it's very emotional,” said Tucker, who has been planning the unveiling for more than a year. “This is their roots, their legacy.”

She said the time capsule's contents provided “a snapshot of a day in time of what the Ewings thought was important.”

Cindy Ewing, daughter of Davis and Hazle's son Ralph, wants to see whether there are any marks on either of the newspapers from the time capsule.

She recalled watching her grandmother Hazle sitting and reading newspapers, wearing gloves to avoid getting ink on her hands and having a thick pencil with red on one end and blue on the other.

“If she saw something that was important or funny or whatever, she'd put a check by it,” said Ewing.

The visit brought back memories for Warner, too.

“I remember sledding down this hill,” she recalled while standing in back of the house.

The grounds included a stable for horses and Warner said, “I remember riding Kinglet over all the trails around Sunset Hill.”

She added, “Christmas here was magical” and she distinctly remembered looking out the window where there was a full moon “and I know I saw Santa Claus.”

Her 15-year-old grandson, Trey Garza, the great-great-grandson of Davis and Hazle Ewing, had heard stories about Sunset Hill but had never visited before.

“When I first saw it, I was overwhelmed with happiness and emotion,” he said.

The contents of the time capsule will be added to the collection at the Ewing Cultural Center, but before the cornerstone is replaced, a new copper box will be created and filled with items from current-day family members, said Tucker.

Among the items to be placed in the new time capsule will be a Purple Heart awarded to Philip Ewing during service in the Vietnam War, said Tucker. The son of Nelson Ewing died in 2015.

Cindy Ewing said she wasn't sure what she will add to the capsule, but is considering a small camera.

“Davis Ewing photographed a lot and so do I,” she said, adding that the camera would be a sign to keep that tradition going.

Contact Lenore Sobota at (309) 820-3240. Follow her on Twitter: @Pg_Sobota


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