When the stonemason tapped the exterior of Weld Hall where it was connected to Lommen Hall in 1955, he didn’t hear the “chunk” of solid limestone, but a hollow sound. Something was inside. When the stone was pulled from the wall, it revealed a copper-plated zinc sheet metal box. Within minutes project manager Brenda Norris and vice president Dan Kirk were on their way to President Edna’s office with the serendipitous discovery of a long-forgotten time capsule.
That was Friday, August 13, 2010. Four days later reporters and videographers joined about 200 people gathered in Weld Hall Glasrud Auditorium who were curious to see what was inside. University archivist Dr. Terry Shoptaugh donned white cotton gloves to remove the lid and open the package within. He found remarkably preserved mementos of Moorhead Normal School that were placed in the time capsule in 1915, when Weld Hall was under construction.
The contents of the box—which included photographs, course descriptions, alumni communications, playbills and programs—are especially precious, because in February 1930, Old Main (constructed in 1888) burned to the ground. The school’s official records and assorted documents added fuel to the fire.
After generations of campus renovation and expansion, Weld Hall is MSUM’s oldest building. When it was under construction, it was referred to as the “classroom building.” The Legislature was especially supportive of improved facilities for teaching science.
However, President Frank A.Weld had been an aspiring actor before he entered academe and he was keenly interested in improving the school’s theatre facilities. He even worked on play productions as president. According to the late Clarence (“Soc”) Glasrud, alumnus and professor emeritus of English, Weld’s passion created some tension on campus between science education and the performing arts.*
That’s why Weld Hall has a stage (named for Glasrud, because he taught in the space for many years) and that’s why the building was an appropriate place to open the time capsule placed by the school’s second president.
The contents will be catalogued and copied, displayed in Livingston Lord Library and preserved in the archives. Copies of the discovered items and mementos from today will be placed back in the cornerstone for discovery by a future generation of Dragons.
*Soc Glasrud wrote two volumes of MSUM history: The Moorhead Normal School and Moorhead State Teachers College. His work covers the time from our founding up to 1957, when the name changed to Moorhead State College. Archivist Shoptaugh is working with Glasrud’s notes to produce the third volume in the series, which will continue the history up to 1975, when “College” expanded to “University.” Glasrud’s well-illustrated books are available in their entirety online at: www.mnstate.edu/archives