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Century-Old IU Time Capsule Remains Under Current Kroger Parking Lot

One of the famous red clocks on the Indiana University-Bloomington campus.

(WTIU/WFIU News)

It’s unclear if a time capsule Indiana University buried beneath Seminary Square in Bloomington nearly a century ago will ever be unearthed.

In 1922, IU held its centennial celebration in the place where the Kroger on South College Avenue now stands.

John Summerlot, the director of IU’s Center for Veteran and Military Students says the university buried a time capsule there, beneath a plaque in the entryway of a chapel that used to be on the site.

“I ran across a news article that referenced exactly where it was buried, well what they knew as the exact location that it was buried, and the question became, ‘Where is that today?’” he says. “So I spent some time digging up old maps and cross referencing it with current GIS data and satellite photos until I made an over lay that fit what is the current square.” 

At the time of the ceremony, the university had already moved to the Dunn Woods campus. But the original school buildings were still intact at Seminary Square.

All available information regarding the contents of the capsule is sourced from the 1922 edition of Alumni Magazine, which states, “The tablet was placed in the center of this plot. The picture above was hermetically sealed and placed with many other university valuables and will not be opened until April 17, 2022.”

The city bought the property and used it for commercial buildings starting in the 1970s, and the site eventually became home to a Kroger store.

Summerlot thinks he has the location of the capsule narrowed down to about three parking spaces at Kroger. But digging it up could take a lot of time and money.

The capsule is supposed to be unearthed in 2022, but Summerlot says they don’t know if that will be possible because the property is privately owned.

Still, he thinks there’s a lot to gain from the project.

 “I think the learning opportunity for our students who maybe are in archeology programs or public history sort of stuff, to come in and learn and do that.” Summerlot says. “The media students, to be able to record it and talk about it. I mean, there’s still a lot of learning opportunity that goes into that even if it were to turn out to not be successful.”

IU is considering creating another time capsule to celebrate its bicentennial. 

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