The secret contents of the Patterson-Dillie time capsule

Back in 1937, a young stock broker by the name of John Patterson Jr. was making a fine living as a stock broker in Dayton, Ohio. When he got the deed for a nice plot of land (at what’s now the corner of Wilmington Pike and Feedwire in Kettering), he set about building his dream home — a massive limestone mansion that sat on some 250 acres of forest.

To celebrate the start of construction on the home, the Pattersons invited their friends over to create a time capsule. The invite read as follows:

Mr. and Mrs. Robert Patterson Jr. cordially invite you to attend the “laying” of a cornerstone Sunday, May 16th at 4:45 p.m. at Sweet Arrow Farm. “Genial” Jim and the “Squire” of Hyde Park have not been invited. Please bring snapshots of yourself and family to be handed down to posterity.

The Patterson mansion was eventually sold to the Dillie family, and the Dillies recently sold the decaying mansion and surrounding forest for development. The site will soon be home to a Costco where you can buy bulk Kirkland-brand bourbon and reminisce about the days when NCR was in Dayton.

Before the Patterson mansion was leveled, a copper time capsule was extracted from the site. It landed in the hands of the Bellbrook Historical Society who just a few short hours ago held a public opening of the copper box at the Bellbrook Presbyterian Church on Franklin Street. My wife and I went with baby Claire (who, by the way, believes the grass outside of the church is rather tasty):


The turnout for the event was so large the historical society couldn’t fit everyone in the church, and they had to split their talk up into two groups. They even moved the capsule opening into the parking lot where volunteers climbed in the back of a pickup truck and took a hammer and chisel to the aged copper box. The crowd craned their necks as the gloved gentlemen extracted some great pieces of Dayton history including: a New York Times from the day the capsule was sealed (featuring a grinning FDR on a fishing trip), a Dayton Daily News from the same day and numerous photos of the Pattersons and their friends. My favorite image was of a rather stylish woman and her dashing escort at the trap shooting range:


Here are the rest of the pics I captured. Enjoy!

2 thoughts on “The secret contents of the Patterson-Dillie time capsule

  1. Tom Coder on

    Well done! I really enjoyed reading about this event and how it would be interesting to try our own family time capsule…actually I did but it is in a box in the garage not buried! I just have to make sure Sandy knows about it!

    • Fred Marion on

      Thanks, Tom! Yeah, you better label your time capsule! :) Rachel and I were saying we should make one for Claire, too.

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