Beer bottle note among artifacts found in Michigan Central Station by Ford's renovators
Since purchasing Michigan Central Station, Ford has worked hard to restore the property to its former glory. In the process, workers have made dozens of fascinating discoveries, from sealed rooms to long-lost items. One - a beer bottle with a handwritten note from 1913 - stood out. Ford historians believe it was left on purpose.
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The bottle of Stroh's from the time before Prohibition (stamped July 19, 1913) was found in early May by two plaster restorers named Lukas Nielsen and Leo Kimble. The bottle had been placed behind part of the plaster cornice that the two were trying to remove. A few words on the slip were in pretty good shape. It appears to have been left by two people named Dan Hogan and Leo (or Lee) Smith, who may be from Chicago. It's dated July 1913, so at least we know the beer was pretty fresh.
Nielsen hopes the message is something important that relates to the building. "I'd drive past it wondering what's going to happen to the station," he told Ford. "Now we're going to be part of the building's history for a long time."
Unfortunately, it has been a century since someone wrote this particular note, and in its advanced state of decay, it may not be possible to make it fully readable. Despite "extreme" temptation, the workers who found the bottle resisted the urge to open it. They were praised for their discretion, as attempting to pull the note out would likely have caused irreparable damage.
Other items recovered from the station include a china tea saucer, files, and accounting records. A previously unknown room behind the wall of an elevator shaft contained an adding machine, shoes, and other discarded items.
"The items found show the care every construction worker takes in their work," said Rich Bardelli, Ford construction manager for the Michigan Central development project. "They saw it and knew it was important, so they brought it to us. My reaction was to wait to open it and make sure we get it right."
And it's not just the workers who were inspired to rescue artifacts from building and operating Michigan Central Station. Shortly after Ford bought the property, a local treasurer anonymously contacted the company with an offer to return a watch that had been looted from the building during its long period of inactivity. Ford employees were escorted to a drop-off location where the watch had been carefully packaged for recovery.
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