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From the Jan. 28, 1930 Eagle

Eagle Archives, Jan. 28, 1930: Workman's pickaxe uncovers corner box under building

A workman engaged in altering the West block on West Street, which will be occupied by an automobile equipment company, yesterday morning discovered a heavy tin box in the corner of the building, which his pickaxe pierced. Some interesting relics in the form of old newspapers, pamphlets, photographs and town reports current about 1894 were contained in the box. The present block was rebuilt in that year.

The original block was built in 1850 on the site of the old Jason Clapp house which had been erected in 1804. John Chapman West was the builder. His photograph was contained in the box, as was that of his four sons and co-executors of his estate. They were Charles E. West of Pittsfield, John K. of Detroit, Dr. Frank E. of Brooklyn and Frederick I. of Chicago. They rebuilt the block after demolishing the original.

The newspapers include copies of the Berkshire Sunday Record, in which was an insert containing the pictures of a number of prominent men of Pittsfield; the Sunday Call and The Berkshire Eagle.

Several other papers were found in the box including a copy of the program of the installation of the Rev. Edward O. Bartlett as pastor of the First Congregational church and society on January 1, 1873. There was also advertisements of the several contractors who engaged in building the structure.

A card stated that the tin box which contained the papers had been made by Mr. and Mrs. George W. Branch and inserted in the corner of the building Oct. 12, 1894. The box was unharmed, practically by the wear of succeeding years. Mr. Branch was a plumber, very well known in Pittsfield. He was also at one time chief of the fire department.

This Story in History is selected from the archives by Jeannie Maschino, The Berkshire Eagle.

Community News Editor / Librarian

Jeannie Maschino is community news editor and librarian for The Berkshire Eagle. She has worked for the newspaper in various capacities since 1982 and joined the newsroom in 1989.

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