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It’s fun to imagine what sort of treasures lie hidden in the bones of historic downtown Bozeman’s decades-old buildings.

And the folks at the Masonic Temple building, currently undergoing a major restoration, got a little glimpse of the past.

While working on restoring the historic Masonic Temple building, the foreman leading the project approached the members, saying if there was going to be a time capsule in the building, he knew exactly where it would be.

Behind a cornerstone granite plaque that read “Masonic Temple 1950.”

“Sure enough, there it was,” said Chuck Gordon, master of Bozeman Lodge No. 18.

Last month workers uncovered a copper box put into a small hole in the bricks behind that granite sign near a door off of Tracy Avenue.

The time capsule was left behind by Masonic Lodge members in 1950, the year the building was last renovated.

It took a bit of finagling to get into the 66-year-old capsule.

“We had to bend it open to get the stuff out,” Gordon said.

Inside was a modest haul of artifacts from the late 1940s and early 1950s.

There was a photo of Nelson Story II, a mason in the Bozeman lodge who served as mayor of Bozeman, a Gallatin County commissioner and lieutenant governor of Montana.

And, as the handwriting on the back of the black-and-white photo said, was “always known as ‘Bud Story.’”

Other items in the capsule were relics from the Masons, such as a list of officers at the time, the Grand Lodge’s 85th annual report published in 1949, and a silver dollar.

It also included three newspapers — copies of the Bozeman Daily Chronicle and the Montana Standard of Butte, both from May 27, 1950, as well as the Bozeman Courier from the day before.

Time Capsule Masonic Lodge

This copy of The Bozeman Courier from May 26, 1950 was one of the items found in a time capsule discovered during renovations to Masonic Lodge #18 in downtown Bozeman. The capsule was located behind a granite plaque installed in 1950 when the building was purchased by the Masons.

The Masons plan to pay it forward and fill a time capsule of their own that will be placed in the same spot as the old one. A replica of the copper box was made and will be filled with a number of new items, as well as all of the things found in the capsule from 1950.

Some of the things that are already slated to go in the new time capsule include a coin from the 150th anniversary of the Montana Masons and a coin from Bozeman Lodge No. 18’s centennial, as well as a copy of the Chronicle’s front page from July that featured a story about the building’s renovation.

And how long that time capsule will remain behind the granite slab, well, “it’s up to them,” said Gordon, referring to the Masons of the future.

Renovations on the Masonic Temple, originally constructed in 1890, began this summer. The project is expected to be finished by late January.

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Whitney Bermes can be reached at wbermes@dailychronicle.com or 582-2648. Follow her on Twitter at @wabermes.

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