A moment in time: Euclid unearths a 65-year-old time capsule from its former YMCA site

Sixty-five years ago on June 24, 1956, a group of local politicians and notables gathered on Babbitt Road to mark the groundbreaking of the Euclid YMCA facility.

Two days ago, a group of 75 curious Euclidians and history buffs gathered to unearth the contents of a 1956 time capsule found inside the cornerstone of the now-defunct YMCA building.

“There was always folklore that there was a time capsule [inside the YMCA building], so they were on the lookout when they razed the building,” says Donna Baioni, board member of the Euclid Historical Society.

The contents of the time capsuleAt Tuesday’s dedication event, Mayor Kirsten Holzheimer-Gail, Euclid Historical Society president Dave Baioni, and Hose Master LLC’s Keith Anthony worked together to open the time capsule and reveal the contents of its weathered brass container. 

Inside were a jar of dirt from the original groundbreaking; a copy of the Euclid News-Journal newspaper circa June 1956; a Holy Bible; event programs, brochures, newsletters, and business cards; an Indian headdress bearing the name “Little Beaver;” and a black-and-white photo of the original Euclid YMCA location inside a small house on Shore Center Drive.

The capsule also included rosters of the original Euclid YMCA board of managers, which included former Euclid mayor Harry J. Knuth and construction company owner Frank Mavec (whose family had donated the land on which the Euclid YMCA was built).

Indian Guides and Princesses artifacts from the 1980s“Finding any sort of time capsule is significant because it’s a true picture of a time and place—it’s not speculation or written history, which may not be 100% accurate,” says Dave Baioni. “We plan to keep the items on display [at the Euclid Historical Society] since there has been such much interest.”

Also now on display are a collection of artifacts from the Indian Guides and Indian Princesses programs (now called Adventure Guides and Princesses) hosted by the Euclid YMCA in the 1980s, in which Dave Baioni had participated with his two sons and daughter.

“The YMCA was always a big epicenter for local families with kids,” says Dave. “Post-war Euclid attracted a lot of young families, and so there was a big influx of children in the late 1940s and 1950s [when the Y was built].”

The original cornerstoneAnother permanent relic paying homage to the Y is the new bench showcasing the original Euclid YMCA cornerstone, now located on the Euclid Historical Society front lawn. Imagined by Euclid’s Director of Planning and Development Allison Lukacsy-Love and brought to life by artist Wesley November, the bench provides a fitting counterpart to the time capsule located inside.

Though it’s unclear what’s next for the now-vacant site at 631 Babbitt Rd. (which is owned by the city of Euclid), the Baionis are happy that a piece of the Euclid YMCA will always live at the Euclid Historical Society.

“If you’re an older Euclidian, you know what the YMCA meant [to the city],” says Donna. “That’s why it’s so important to preserve it.”

Read more articles by Jen Jones Donatelli.

As an enthusiastic CLE-vangelist, Jen Jones Donatelli enjoys diving headfirst into her work with FreshWater Cleveland. Upon moving back to Cleveland after 16 years in Los Angeles, Jen served as FreshWater's managing editor for two years (2017-2019) and continues her work with the publication as a contributing editor and host of the FreshFaces podcast. When not typing the day away at her laptop, she teaches writing and creativity classes through her small business Creative Groove, as well as Literary Cleveland, Cleveland State University, and more. Jen is a proud graduate of Ohio University's E.W. Scripps School of Journalism.