2017ArticlesNorth Hills

North Hills time capsule opened after 50 years

Originally published in the Triangle Business Journal on June 8, 2017

With a crowd of hundreds watching, a piece of Raleigh’s past was uncovered Thursday when North Hills opened a time capsule from June 8, 1967.

The time capsule was buried 50 years ago at the beginning of North Hills, when the Cardinal Theatre was located where the Bonefish Grill now stands.

North Hills officials pulled a metal can from the ground, turned green with rust and age, and used a power saw to cut it open.

There was bad news, however, once the canister was unsealed – water had seeped in through the years and muddied the contents. A reel of WRAL footage from the era and reels from area radio stations were soaked, as were many of the other paper items.

North Hills developer John Kane said he had no idea what to expect from the contents, but added, “It was disappointing it was all wet.”

Still, the disappointment didn’t damper a festive mood that was a celebration of Raleigh’s past and future. Inside the canister were many items from the era in addition to the copies of broadcasts, including a News & Observer, a doll’s cape, a North Carolina manual, a letter from the Raleigh Public Schools (which was separate from Wake County at the time) and other notes from prominent officials, including a key to the city.

A.C. Snow, a longtime columnist for The Raleigh Times and N&O, was at the event and spoke with Kane afterward.

The crowd of several hundred on a sun-splashed day included many people who grew up in Raleigh and remember how the town was vastly smaller at the time – with roughly 120,000 residents – and the opening of North Hills, which opened before the much larger Crabtree Valley Mall a few years later. Raleigh was much different, with Durham and Chapel Hill not connected by I-40. There was no concept then of living “Inside the Beltline” because most people in Raleigh did.

On Thursday, many people raised their hands when asked who had been there when the capsule was put in back in 1967. One who was there was Jerry Snead, who worked at the Cardinal Theatre at the time.

He said his memories of that day were vague. “I was the young guy doing the running around, in and out,” he said. “This was a whole lot bigger deal now than it was then.”

The Cardinal Theatre’s first film was a Doris Day movie, “Caprice.” And Kane drew laughter from the crowd when he noted that the Cardinal was a huge deal at the time “because it had two screens.”

“It was novel. It was unique in that regard,” Kane said.

The contents will be displayed Thursday night at North Hills’ Beach Music event and then later at the City of Raleigh Museum.

North Hills decided to continue the tradition and put in another time capsule, to be opened in 50 years. The capsule probably will be stored in about a week. In this capsule? A copy of Triangle Business Journal.

Dane Huffman, Managing Editor, Triangle Business Journal