Capsule gives up historic secret

Michael TraillAlbany Advertiser
Michael Roberts and Paul Lionetti with the time capsule found at the Esplanade Hotel site in Midleton Beach.
Camera IconMichael Roberts and Paul Lionetti with the time capsule found at the Esplanade Hotel site in Midleton Beach. Credit: Picture: Laurie Benson, Laurie Benson Albany Advertiser

A question surrounding the legality of human cryogenics, a magazine collage featuring “Hairstyles of the 90s” and a letter of support from late entrepreneur Paul Terry were unearthed in an Albany time capsule.

Albany business heavyweight Paul Lionetti and architect Michael Roberts cracked open the capsule, which is understood to have been buried in 1990 during the construction of Mr Terry’s Esplanade Hotel.

Mr Terry was a wealthy and well-liked man who was killed in a Hawaiian helicopter crash in 1993, aged 45.

He escaped the rat race by moving to Albany with his wife and four children, where he built his dream home — Maitraya — overlooking the Southern Ocean.

The time capsule was stumbled upon by chance while contractors were demolishing the Esplanade Hotel in early 2007, and it has sat in the offices of Roberts Gardiner Architects ever since.

A stash of “letters to the finder”, magazines, rubbings of coins from around the world and Holden advertising pamphlets were all hidden in the capsule, which was emptied for the first time last Wednesday by Mr Lionetti and Mr Roberts.

The capsule was filled by students in Albany Senior High School’s PEAC program.

“This one was found by accident and could have been lost forever. It was found by people digging asphalt up in the carpark,” Mr Roberts said.

“The machine had broken off one of the ends, so he had a peak inside. We took it to the owners of the site, which were a Singaporean group and they said, ‘Great, we’ll hold that until we finish construction and we’ll re-bury it’.

“Of course they left the site and it’s all gone now. It’s been sitting in our office for 10 years.”

In a letter dated November 20, 1990, Mr Terry told the students he was excited about the concept of having a time capsule buried under his hotel.

“Congratulations. Your idea is excellent. We really look forward to working with you all,” Mr Terry wrote.

In another letter, dated November 18, 1990, Daniel Lie informs the reader a man had “recently” asked to be preserved by cryogenic freezing before his death.

“Freezing alive is considered murder, but when this is read, it may not (be),” he wrote.

Albany Primary School year 7 student Tina Holmes — who liked listening to Alannah Myles and Wilson Phillips — said life in Albany was great with lots of fun things to do.

“Life in the future will be good, too. There will be fashions that are out of this world and lots of solar powered things,” she said. “Maybe people will live on the moon.”

Ideas wanted for new time capsule

The Albany Advertiser wants your help filling a time capsule which will be buried under the city’s new waterfront hotel.

Landowner Paul Lionetti wants this capsule to be bigger and he wants it to stay buried for a century, with a plaque marking its location.

Clearly, he is hoping the capsule will stay hidden for longer than the last one, which was found when the Esplanade Hotel was demolished 16 years after construction.

Albany’s forthcoming Hilton Garden Inn will be Hilton’s first Garden Inn hotel in Australia when it opens about this time next year.

A resident will have the chance to bury the capsule at a public event scheduled for October 1 next year.

Mr Lionetti said he enjoyed going through the contents of the original 1990 capsule last week. “It was fantastic. There was stuff there that was from way back and all the school kids got involved,” he said.

“We hope that the present school kids and the community get involved as well.

“What we want to do is double or triple the size of the time capsule so that the locals then remember now.

“We’ll actually mark it. I want to have a plaque put on it and have it taken out 100 years to the day by the local community.”

Readers are encouraged to contact the Advertiser with ideas for the contents of the capsule.

They can also get in touch if they recognise items from the original.

“We can do secrets from the past so they’re not forgotten, stuff about the city. Whatever you can think of, whatever would be appropriate for people to find,” Mr Lionetti said.

Ideas must be submitted by October 31. Pick up a copy of the newspaper on November 5 to see if your idea made the cut. Address your letters to the editor to 165 York Street, Albany. Include the words “time capsule” in the subject of your emails to Find us on Facebook or phone 9892 8300.

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