Time capsule a no-show at Wainwright School excavation

Construction crews on the site of the old Wainwright Elementary School in Fircrest searched in vain Monday morning for a time capsule buried by students at the school in 1992.

Jeffry Rhodes was a second-grader back then. He remembers a box of materials representing each grade level from the school being buried near the outside of the northeast corner of the 1924 building.

That wall was torn down Monday. But construction crews who used a backhoe to unearth the soil around it, layer by layer, found no trace of the 1992 mementos.

Rhodes contacted the News Tribune last month after reading about the start of demolition at the site, where a new Wainwright Intermediate School, for students in grades four through eight, is scheduled to open in September 2016. Tacoma Public Schools estimates the total cost at $35 million.

Rhodes said he remembered the time capsule, and wondered if it had been found. He sent the school district a drawing showing where he thought the time capsule was located.

Crews dug carefully in that area Monday, but no trace of the time capsule was immediately evident.

“I remember it was an end-of-school celebration,” recalled Rhodes, who now lives in Issaquah. “Each class had something to put in there. I can’t remember what our class did.”

Rhodes said some classes contributed paper products, while others left representations of food. He also remembers a copy of The News Tribune and possibly Time magazine. He could not remember whether the time capsule materials were placed in a metal or cardboard box.

There’s been a lot of public interest in the Wainwright project. Although the quaint red-brick school was a beloved landmark for the Fircrest neighborhood, it was not on a historic register.

Rhodes, who later attended Geiger Elementary, Hunt Middle School and Wilson High School in Tacoma, said friends who still live in the area have been sending him photos of the Wainwright work as it progresses.