Did you know: There’s a hidden piece of history buried within the Dayton Art Institute

Julia Shaw Carnell, the benefactor of the Dayton Art Museum, sealed her gift to the city during a cornerstone laying ceremony May 21, 1928.

A cornerstone laying ceremony was held May 21, 1928 for the new Dayton Art Institute. PHOTO: DAYTON ART INSTITUTE

Hundreds of spectators seated around the partially constructed building and looking down from a perch above watched as a block of sandstone attached to heavy chains was carefully lowered over a time capsule by four men. 

The new buidling replaced the original museum which opened in 1919 in a house at the corner of Monument and St. Clair streets. 

A block of sandstone is lowered into place for the cornerstone of the new Dayton Art Institute. PHOTO: DAYTON ART INSTITUTE

This historic photograph documenting the event was taken just before the time capsule was enshrined. Tucked inside is a historical account “of Dayton’s chief organization for the promotion of art from June 21, 1912 to May 21, 1928,” according to a story in the Dayton Herald. 

Carnell, who donated nearly $2 million to construct the new museum on the condition the community would pay for its operations, spread the mortar, which sealed the cornerstone in place. 

The completed 60,000 square foot museum was dedicated to great fanfare Jan. 7, 1930.

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