Last year, Des Moines Public Schools purchased the 107-year-old Miller United Methodist Church building and property, near the corner of Hull Avenue and East 13th Street. The church had been sitting empty in recent years as the original congregation closed in 2012 and the most recent occupant had also moved on.
Located adjacent to Cattell Elementary School, the school district intends to expand the school’s playground area as well as provide additional.
During the demolition of the building, a time capsule was discovered in its 1912 cornerstone.
Jamie Wilkerson, DMPS Facility Services Supervisor, eagerly worked to unseal the small, copper capsule inside the stone. Why? He was expecting to find that his maternal great, great grandfather’s name was on the list of the church’s original members. Sure enough, the name Peterson was on the list. The church was the location of weddings or other events for Wilkerson’s family over many years.
The tightly packed capsule seemed to keep giving as each document and item was carefully removed. One of the most interesting was the April 20, 1912 edition of The Evening Tribune. The big news was the sinking of the Titanic a few days earlier. Among the many victims was a student from Drake University.
The school district intends to maintain the historic memorabilia, and is looking at options to display some items and even incorporate parts into the new use of the old church property.