On Monday night, an employee from Brown’s Monument Works in Monroe removed a stone plaque with the inscription “1972” from Monroe Town Hall’s brick facade to retrieve a copper box that had not been opened for 50 years.
The following evening, a crowd of onlookers gathered outside Town Hall to watch First Selectman Ken Kellogg walk behind a bush to get the box.
Those in attendance, which included Monroe Bicentennial Committee Chairperson Vida Stone and several committee members, followed Kellogg into the Town Hall lobby where he and Stone would open the metal container to reveal what was inside.
Stone reached in and took out a tattered, yellowing newspaper and handed it to the first selectman.
“It looks like a newspaper article of the dedication of this Town Hall,” Kellogg said, skimming the story. “Guess how much it cost?”
The room erupted into laughter. “A dollar-twenty-five,” one woman called out.
“Guess again,” Kellogg said.
“Fifteen cents,” a man called out
“The building. Not the newspaper,” Kellogg said with a smile.
Someone else guessed that it cost $500,000.
“The new Town Hall Complex, $1.4 million,” Kellogg said. “I wish we could do a project for that.”
The Bridgeport Sunday Post article, dated September 10, 1972, promoted the dedication ceremony. The headline read, “Dedication Sept. 17 for Monroe’s Town Hall Complex”.
“Artist David Merrill, a former resident of Monroe, will depict the three buildings it replaces — a Town Hall, dated 1897, a small library, opened in 1958, and a Town Hall Annex, circa 1907, in an oil painting to hang in the lobby of the new complex,” the article said.
The framed painting hung behind Kellogg and Stone as they led the proceeding in the Town Hall lobby Tuesday evening.
Stone found a shorter article about Masuk students participating in the dedication. “We’ll post all of these on the website too, so you can see them,” she said.
Kellogg pulled out an invitation to the 1972 dedication ceremony. “This one was mailed to “Rural Patron, Monroe, CT” he said.
“This is … something that’s disintegrating,” he said, while examining another paper item. “Oh, this is a pamphlet from the building committee. It’s all kind of water damaged.”
The names of building committee members included George Johnson, Betty Tyler, Donald B. Wales, Norman Atkinson and Sanford Bond.
Stone held up old photos of the three buildings the Town Hall replaced.
“Is it snowing?” a small child asked.
“No,” Stone replied after taking another look at a photo.
“It’s black and white,” someone called out, recalling the medium that is far less common for today’s youth.
A 2023 Time Capsule
The Monroe Bicentennial Committee is putting together a time capsule of its own, which will be buried on the green in front of Monroe Town Hall for 50 years, when future town residents will unearth and open it in 2073.
A table inside the Town Hall lobby displayed some items students of Monroe’s public schools created for the capsule.
Kelly Plunkett, a Bicentennial Committee member, said Jockey Hollow Middle School students and Christopher Tierney, president of Masuk’s senior class, wrote letters.
Salutations included “Dear Future Monroe”. Many kids wrote that one of the most fun things about their lives is they can make videos and post it with their phones. They also included things they wonder about the future.
Playbill pamphlets advertised the Jockey Hollow production of “Legally Blonde”.
Children from Monroe’s three elementary schools also created contents for the time capsule, and other items included a Jockey Hollow yearbook and a Masuk Class of 2023 photo. Sheets of paper showed what’s trending in 2023, places to eat, shop and hangout.
Vida Stone said her committee is still looking for items to consider for the 2023 Time Capsule.
Among the dignitaries Tuesday, were Robert “Bob” Tranzillo and Joan Anderson, who were members of the town’s Sesquicentennial Committee in 1973, celebrating the town’s 150th birthday.
Tranzillo served as treasurer and parade chairman and Anderson was secretary.
Stone said she was happy with how the Monroe Bicentennial event went.
“Oh my God, I was just so excited there was something behind the 1972 plaque,” she said.
Stone, who is also Monroe’s town clerk, said she will apply for a Connecticut State Library Historic Documents Preservation Grant to protect the 1972 documents unveiled Tuesday.
“We’ll also save the box it came in,” she said.
All respectful comments with the commenter’s first and last name are welcome.