100-Year Time Capsule Highlights Central Library Centennial Event

An unveiling of Indianapolis and library history awaits as the entire community is invited to the free Centennial Celebration of Central Library on Saturday, October 7 from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. at Central Library, 40 E. St. Clair St.

The day’s activities will include the revealing of contents in a time capsule from March 24, 1916 when the cornerstone was laid for a new Central Library that was dedicated on October 7, 1917. Library records indicate that among the items in the time capsule are original works by beloved Hoosier poet James Whitcomb Riley, copies of Indianapolis newspapers from 1916, programs from local literary clubs, coins, postage stamps, postcard photos, documents relating to Library operations, and many other historic artifacts.


In addition to the time capsule unveiling, the commemorative event will feature performances by the Indianapolis Children’s Choir and a quintet from the Philharmonic Orchestra of Indianapolis, a proclamation by the Mayor’s Office, family programs, historic period characters and birthday cake. Free parking in Central Library’s garage will be available throughout the day.

The event also will mark the opening of a new exhibit, “Cret Building at 100,” that celebrates the architecture, people and stories of the Cret Building that played an integral part in defining the city’s character 100 years ago. Eighteen full-color, illustrative and interpretive panels designed by local Indianapolis firm RLR showcase more than 50 images and artifacts from Central Library’s Nina Mason Pulliam Indianapolis Special Collections Room. The exhibit is made possible by a grant from Katz, Sapper & Miller and will be on display around the balcony of the historic Simon Reading Room during regular Central Library hours.

Visitors are also encouraged to tour the Cret Building, the original limestone building designed by Paul Cret, whose architectural features are highlighted by its classic Greek Doric exterior and interior ceiling mural painted in oil on small canvases. The building was proclaimed in 1918 by Architectural Forum as “the most beautiful secular building in the United States, if not the most beautiful secular building produced in modern times.” A six-story glass and steel-framed addition designed by Evans Woollen opened in 2007. In 2016, elledecor.com listed Central Library among its “50 Best Libraries in America.”

Central Library’s Centennial Celebration is made possible by Buckingham Companies and Friends of the Library through gifts to The Indianapolis Public Library Foundation. For more information, call 317-275-4099, go to indypl.org, or follow The Indianapolis Public Library on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter.


Central Library 100-Year Time Capsule List of Contents:

  • U.S. flag presented by Captain Wallace Foster
  • Issues of the Book Bulletin from 1904-1916
  • 5 architectural drawings for the new Central Library building
  • A construction photograph of the uncompleted building prior to the laying of cornerstone
  • A list of books by Indiana authors that were part of the existing Library
  • A map of Indianapolis indicating the locations of all the city’s branch libraries
  • The original, unpublished manuscript of a new verse to a poem by James Whitcomb Riley, “No Boy Knows” (the poem is unsigned and placed in the front cover of “Rhymes of Childhood”)
  • A first edition of Riley’s “Rhymes in Childhood,” bound in blue morocco
  • A copy of “The Hoosiers” by Meredith Nicholson
  • The legislation concerning the establishment of the Indianapolis Library
  • A history of the Library from its beginning by Eliza Browning, reports of its operations, lists of the Board of School Commissioners 1871-1919, list of Chairmen of the School Board’s Library Committee and Library Advisory Committee 1873-1916, list of Superintendents of the Public School 1863-1912, lists of librarians and employees in both 1873 and 1916, list of library periodicals
  • Samples of library forms and procedures in use in 1916
  • 20 postcard photos of prominent city buildings
  • Programs of 12 literary clubs of the day
  • The yearbook and constitution of the “Matinee Musicale”
  • Copies of the Indianapolis Times (March 23, 1916), Indianapolis Star and Indianapolis News (both March 22, 1916), Spottvogel (German – March 19, 1916), Freeman (“colored people” – December 25, 1915 and March 18, 1916), Indiana Catholic and Record (March 17, 1916), Indianapolis World (March 18, 1916), Telegraph und Tribune (German – March 15, 1916 and March 22, 1916)
  • Coins and postage stamps of the day
  • Two literary club papers, “Survey of Indiana Authors Since 1900” by Marietta Finley (no date) and “Hoosier School of Literature” by Cora Campbell Barnett (March 1916)
  • A copy of “Centennial History” by Max Hyman
  • A scrapbook of newspaper clippings made by Abram C. Shortridge, a Superintendent of Indianapolis Public Schools and second president of Purdue University and the namesake for Shortridge High School
  • An invitation to the laying of the cornerstone, a program of the event and list of ushers from the Roines Club of Manual High School
  • The 1913 “Program of Competition for a Central Library Building”
  • A typed manuscript of the distribution of work among departments at the Library
  • A 5-page pamphlet, “The Relation of the Indianapolis Public Library to the Indianapolis Schools, Public and Private”
  • A collection of small lists of books for patron use on various subjects
  • The Library’s monthly “Education Bulletin” (for teacher use) October 1914 – June 1915 and November 1915 – February 1916
  • A scheme of the classification of library materials
  • The “Catalogue of the Public Library of Indianapolis, 1873”
  • The sheet, “Indianapolis Public Library Rules Governing Applicants for Positions as Attendants by E.G. Browning, Librarian”
  • “A Patriotic Primer for the Little Citizen” by Wallace Foster, 1909 (intended for classroom use)
  • The typed and corrected speech by Meredith Nicholson at the laying of the cornerstone ceremony
  • 33 postcard photos of Library buildings, branches and services
  • A stack of 3×5 cards detailing daily general operations and procedures of the Library, dated February 1912 and May 1914
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