A copper time capsule, placed 101 years ago behind a granite cornerstone at the downtown fire station, was opened by firefighters Friday.
The copper box contained a hand-signed ledger of the fire crew at the time, news clippings, a penny and mementos from a fireman's ball with the York, Maine, Fire Department.
Accessing the capsule required hours of labor by Mark Young of East Coast Masonry, who cut through mortar without damaging the white marble cornerstone engraved with the year 1919. Fire Chief Todd Germain said they knew it was there because it was mentioned in a book about the history of the Portsmouth Fire Department by former chief Steve Achilles, as well as Ray Brighton's "They Came to Fish."
The cornerstone is at the base of a wall at the front, right of the fire station, is more than 16 inches thick. When Young wasn't finding the time capsule quickly, Lt. Russ Osgood said, some began to wonder if it was "the greatest practical joke in the history of firefighting."