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Millcreek Journal

Historic cache buried in wall at St. Mark’s Hospital

Apr 30, 2022 11:49AM ● By Deb Hafner

St. Mark’s CEO Jeremy Bradshaw opens the copper time capsule that was buried in a wall of the hospital. (Deb Hafner/City Journals)

By Deb Hafner | [email protected]

Quietly waiting to return since 1971, a time capsule was hidden behind a thick slab of marble in an exterior wall of the main lobby at St. Mark’s Hospital. On April 4, it was opened by CEO Jeremy Bradshaw, the board of trustees, and staff from the hospital.

Hospital staff chipped away the decades-old mortar and used a crowbar to pry open a slab of marble, revealing a slender rectangular copper canister perched on the inside stone ledge. 
      “No matter what is inside this,” said Bradshaw moments before the time capsule was freed from its repository, “it’s important to acknowledge what this represents. This capsule represents 150 years in our community. That is a 150 years of babies being born and growing families here, 150 years of saving lives and saying goodbye to those who we lost, 150 years of medical advancement and preventive medicine, and 150 years of caring like family, and 150 years of devotion to our mission, which is above all else, committed to the care and improvement of human life.” 

To mark its sesquicentennial anniversary, the contents of the time capsule will be on display in a pop-up museum until the new building is finished, at which point the hospital has plans for a permanent exhibit that patients and the public can enjoy.

This was not the first capsule buried on St. Mark’s property. In 1892, when Utah was still a territory, and St. Mark’s was the first hospital in the Intermountain West, a container was filled with newspaper articles, photos and bibles and sealed in a cornerstone. The time capsule remained at 803 N. 200 West until St. Mark’s moved to its current location in Millcreek in the 1970s. At this point, the time capsule was exhumed and opened. Its contents were logged and returned to the capsule, and new items from the 1970s were added. It was then sealed shut once again and buried in the wall of the hospital’s lobby, behind a marble slab engraved with “Erected to the glory of God and for the healing of all people.”

Original memorabilia from the 1890’s included prayer books and church hymnals, newspapers from The Salt Lake Tribune, The Salt Lake Times and the Deseret Evening News, lists of employees and volunteers and photographs of founding members.

A handwritten history of St. Mark’s from 1891, on yellowed paper in a near incomprehensible cursive, discloses how the idea for the first hospital in Utah came about.  “After a dinner party given at the residence of Bishop Tuttle, the importance and necessity of such an institution was discussed.” Major E. Wilkes (who helped get funding from the mining companies), Reverend R.M. Kirby (who became secretary and treasurer), and Dr. J.F. Hamilton (who became medical director until his death) were guests, and the topic of discussion was the Miller mine and the Emma mine, the document explains, which were giving workers lead poisoning. Major Wilkes was “anxious that something should be done for their relief,” and St. Mark’s was born.

Items from the 1970s that were added include bibles and hymnals, collectable coins, jewelry, newspapers that headlined the devastating air collision that killed nine people on June 7, 1971, and lists of staff and volunteers, when volunteers were called “candy stripers”.

“It’s interesting,” observed Rachel Quist, an archeologist and historian who was on hand to observe the contents. “Every item isn’t directly tied to the hospital but instead are more of the times.”

“The people who are putting the newspapers in the time capsule are thinking this is going to be the only copy left. It shows what was important to people at the time,” remarked Quist, as she sorted through photographs, newspapers and bibles from 1892.

Items in the time capsule that will be on display include:

●       Protestant Episcopal Church hymnal, published in 1874

●       A prayer book published in 1886

●       A handwritten history of St. Mark’s Hospital, from the 1890s, that includes the names of members of the Board of Trustees at the time, architects, contractors and a superintendent for a hospital project

●       Newspapers dated Sat., July 30, 1892, from The Salt Lake Times and the Deseret Evening News

●       The Salt Lake Tribune newspaper from Sunday morning, July 31, 1892

●       The Churchman, an Illustrated Weekly News-Magazine from Sat., July 23, 1892

●       Volume VI of The Church Notes (Nevada and Utah) dated July 1892

●       Several old photographs of representatives of St. Mark’s Hospital including physicians, board of directors and members of the facility’s building committee ranging from 1889-1892

●       A list of employees at St. Mark’s Hospital – organized by title and medical specialty, including but not limited to supervisors, administration, admitting, etc. – during June 1971

●       Photos and an article from the Thurs., May 13, 1971 issue of The Salt Lake Tribune, detailing the opening of the first cornerstone box before the items was combined

●       The Deseret News from Mon., June 7, 1971 with the headline “9 Utahns Killed In Air Collision;” the subheading reads, “DC9, F4 Crash: Total Of 50 Die,” detailing the Air West Jet Flight 706 – en route to Salt Lake City – which crashed east of Los Angeles after a midair collision with a Marine Corps jet

●       A Sunrise Edition copy of The Salt Lake Tribune on June 7, 1971, about the air collision story

●       The June 1971 St. Mark’s Hospital Auxiliary Membership List

●       Coins and collectibles from 1971

●       A necklace from 1971

St. Mark’s is continuing to celebrate 150 years in Utah with special visual events such as the NICU “Hall of Hope,” a portrait gallery in the hospital that is displaying two dozen photos of former neonatal intensive care unit patients all grown up and holding baby pictures of themselves. St. Mark’s is continuing to add to the Hall of Hope and contacting families of former NICU patients to add to the growing portraits.