“Time capsule” discovered in downtown York

YORK – When Clay Stodieck found a hidden staircase and realized two fake ceilings had something above them, he never imagined he’d soon be stepping back in time.

Literally, a long way back in time. Likely 1966.

Clay and his wife, Becky, recently purchased the building at 109 East Sixth Street. For 30 years, the building has been occupied by JM Monograms. The building’s past includes being a clothing store as well.

Clay and Becky were interested in a rehab project downtown and when the building came up for sale, they decided to inspect the property.

“Doing my due diligence, I was at the building and asked Jan and Mike (Pickard, owners of JM Monograms) about the second floor. The business is listed as having a second floor but Mike said there wasn’t a second floor. He said it was his understanding all these years that the elevated portion on the south side of the building was a fake façade, a fake front to match the heights of the other nearby downtown buildings,” Clay explained. “Then I opened up the door to the basement, looked up and saw what appeared to have been stairs also going upward.

“It looked like someone had just cut off the stairs at that point,” Clay explained. “Then I opened up a little space in the false ceiling, in the store, and saw the other end of the cut-up stairs leading upward. That’s when I knew there was an upstairs space after all.”

He made an opening in the false ceiling, found another false ceiling, opened the second ceiling as well.

“And once I got to that point, I cut a hole and looked up – that’s when I saw the old, original tin roof high above the second floor,” Clay said.

His pioneering nature led him to further exploration, of course. Armed with a ladder and tools, he forged his way into the second floor space and what he found was astounding.

“I literally walked into what appears to have been 1966,” he said. “It’s as if time stood still. Someone sealed up this floor and what was in there has been undisturbed for nearly 60 years. We literally stumbled upon a time capsule.”

A time capsule it certainly is.

Clay refers to the last day a human was in that space as March 29, 1966, because he found that day’s publication of the York News-Times lying in what appeared to have been an apartment.

“Look, someone even did the crossword puzzle before they left,” he said chuckling . . . sure enough, someone’s handwriting can still be seen in the yellowed boxes.

“This is the newest thing we found here and it has a date, so it probably was that day,” Clay said.

What was left behind is incredible.

The walls are heavily textured with an adobe-like surface, as is a large faux fireplace.

An old Roper gas cook stove (in remarkable condition) stands along a wall in what appeared to have been one of two kitchens.

There were also spaces for what appears to have been two bathrooms.

There are two phone pass-through nooks (for back when phones had cords and the phone had to be carried around in order for the caller to move about).

One of the most interesting features of belongings left behind by whomever is the multi-colored picture of a woman hanging on the wall. Clay thinks the picture may have been the top of a calendar. Or maybe she is just a dated adornment – her hairstyle was certainly from another time. And she sure commands attention in the space with her bright red lipstick.

“It’s almost like someone was cleaning this space out and then they just stopped, sealed it up and it’s been forgotten ever since . . . until now,” Clay said.

The Pickards are retiring and will be vacating the building soon, Clay said.

Then he and Becky will start their work.

“We will put the stairs back in and clean out the basement, restore it all, put in new windows, clean up the front, restore it to its original style,” Clay said of their plans. “Will we sell or lease it out after we are done? We aren’t really sure yet. But we were ready to take on a project and we found this building . . . and a little extra, in our time capsule upstairs.”



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